Federal court rules California decision on independent contractors applies retroactively

Federal court rules California decision on independent contractors applies retroactively
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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that a lower court ruling establishing a test for how workers can be considered independent contractors applies to past cases as well.

Judge Frederic Block wrote in the court’s majority opinion in a case involving cleaning business franchiser Jan-Pro that applying that decision retroactively is in line with California law. The court sent the case down to lower courts to address previously dismissed claims filed against Jan-Pro.

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Workers in several states had initially filed lawsuits against Jan-Pro in 2007, alleging that they were being misclassified as independent contractors.

The California Supreme Court found that in order to prove that a worker is not an employee, a business must show that a staffer is in an independently created job, that their work isn’t in line with the company’s general services and that the worker is able to work freely over how to carry out their work.

Thursday's ruling opens the door for Jan-Pro workers to file complaints against the company, which the business had sought to prevent in court.

Block wrote in the opinion that by applying the test retroactively, the court is respecting the California Supreme Court’s concerns.

And he said this decision ensures that the workers “can provide for themselves and their families,” it also “protects the janitorial industry as a whole, putting Jan-Pro on equal footing with other industry participants” who were already complying with California labor and wage laws.