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Employee Benefits Reserved for those Employees in an "Employer-Employee" Relationship

On December 30, 2011, in Arnold v. Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company, (California Courts of Appeal – First District, No. A131440), the court held that a nonexclusive insurance agent is only entitled to employee benefits where there is an employer-employee relationship. The court found that this type of relationship exists only where the agent is monitored or supervised; without this, an employee cannot be said to be in the requisite relationship for employee benefits.

In Arnold, a non-exclusive insurance agent filed suit after the insurance agency she worked with terminated her employment contract. The court found that because the plaintiff was "an independent contractor, rather than an employee" there were no grounds for suit. To determine whether one is an employee, the court looks to whether "the person to whom service is rendered has the right to control the manner and means of accomplishing the result desired." To apply this test, the court really assessed whether the plaintiff used her own judgment in business matters and whether there was supervision on behalf of the "employer." Because the defendant neither supervised nor interfered with the plaintiff's judgment the court determined she did not qualify as an employee.

If you believe that you are an employee who has suffered wrongful termination, please do not hesitate to contact an Orange County Employment Law attorney today.

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