Pikaart v. A & A Taxi, Inc., No. 27003 (S.C. 07/11/11).
The South Carolina Supreme Court held that a manager was an employee of a taxi company, rather than an independent contractor, and was entitled to benefits.
What it means: In South Carolina, the primary consideration in determining when an employer-employee relationship exists is whether the employer has the right to control the employee in the performance on the work and the manner in which it is done.
Summary: While an office manager for a taxi company was performing work-related errands, he was involved in two automobile accidents. After he informed the company owner that he needed surgery for his injuries, he was terminated. The manager sought workers' compensation benefits for injuries he sustained to his neck, back, arms, hands, and fingers. The company denied responsibility, claiming that the manager was an independent contractor. The South Carolina Supreme Court held that the manager was an employee of the company, and he was entitled to benefits.
The court noted that several former drivers for the company said that the manager was an employee of the company. The company denied that the manager was their manager. The company argued that if he was their manager, he was not injured in that role but while driving a taxi. The court said that did not negate the manager's status as an employee.
The company also argued that the manager leased five taxis from the owner and operated them as his own independent business. The court said this was typical for the industry. The manager performed tasks for the benefit of the company and not strictly for himself.
The court found that the evidence showed the company had the right to control the manager. The company provided the manager's equipment, and he took nothing when he left. The manager came up with business concepts, such as a $10 dispatch fee, that were in furtherance of the company. The manager primarily performed management tasks for the company, but filed in as a dispatcher and driver when needed. When he was injured, he was driving a taxi owned by the company to run errands on behalf of the company.
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August 22, 2011
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