Acol provides guitar lessons at Marsha’s Guitar Shop and recently began to sporadically cover the front desk at the shop. An independent contractor has the right to control the manner and means of accomplishing the result desired. Essentially, a principal only has direct control over the outcome of the work, while an independent contractor has control of how that work will be undertook. Can Acol be classified as an independent contractor?
Probably yes. Courts use a variety of factors to determine whether an individual qualifies as an independent contractor. However, courts have held one of the most significant factors is the degree of control exercised over the individual hired to perform the work. Acol had a large degree of control over the performance of her own work. Acol chose her own hours, had full control over the lesson plans, and used her own instruments to perform the lessons. The overall circumstances, coupled together, demonstrate Acol principally controlled her own work. Therefore, the court will likely find Acol an independent contractor.
Statement of Facts
Stephanie Acol has been giving lessons at Marsha’s Guitar Shop, owned by Marsha Mullins, for the past two years. Video Recording: Interview of Marsha Mullins by Ana Tadeo, Law Offices of Tadeo and Associates (Oct. 14, 2013) (in client file). There is no written agreement between Acol and Mullins. However, they do have an oral agreement, whereby Acol rents the back studio of the shop from Mullins for three hundred dollars a month. Moreover, Mullins receives a flat rate fee of twenty dollars for every person she refers to Acol for guitar lessons. Mullins requests Acol wear a company shirt and also keep track of all her clients through the shop’s internal calendar. Mullins also requests Acol notify her whenever she cannot make a lesson, in advance, for those clients which Mullins referred. Acol does her own advertisement and does have a business card with Marsha’s Guitar Shop logo on it. However, the business card has her name and number as a point of contact. Moreover, Acol has complete control over the lesson plan and hourly rate she charges. The studio was completely furnished by Mullins but Acol uses her own guitar when providing lessons. Mullins estimates about twenty to thirty percent of her entire revenue comes from the referrals she gives to Acol. Mullins also estimates Acol makes around forty to fifty dollars an hour for the lessons.
Over the past couple of months, the receptionist at Marsha’s Guitar Shop was getting ill and Acol sporadically covered the front the desk. There was no set schedule for when Acol covered the front desk and the amount of hours Acol covered varied depending on the day. Mullins paid Acol ten dollars an hour, under the table, for when Acol covered. Acol is not on Mullins’ payroll and receives no benefits. However, the person who usually covers the front desk is on Mullins’ payroll and receives benefits....