Home > Defenses, Legislation > Is a Hairstylist an Independent Contractor? WCAB Says “Yes.”

Is a Hairstylist an Independent Contractor? WCAB Says “Yes.”

Yesterday’s post covered proposed legislation to amend the definition of an independent contractor, repealing current Labor Code section 3353 and providing, instead, a list of factors to consider in determining whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee (determining, also, if the principal must provide workers’ compensation insurance).

A recent writ denied case addressed this very issue.  In Margarita Aparicio v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (2012), the WCAB had denied applicant’s petition for reconsideration of the workers’ compensation Judge’s ruling that she was an independent contractor and not an employee.  Applicant worked as a hairstylist at Unisex Barber, and claimed she had sustained a plethora of injuries during her 20 months as a hairstylist with defendant.

Defendant denied the claim on the grounds that applicant was an independent contractor:  she was not supervised, set her own hours, and provided her own tools.  Apparently, at the time that the professional relationship began between applicant and defendant, which applicant no-doubt, at least for the purposes of her claim, considered the “time of hire,” applicant had told defendant that she had a cosmetology license, although one was never actually produced.

Applicant failed to appear at a hearing and the WCJ issued a finding and award, finding that applicant was an independent contractor.  The fact that some supplies were provided to applicant during her work and that defendant had insured some of its employees did not seem to sway to the WCJ to a finding in the non-appearing applicant’s favor.

The testimony from the defendant at the hearing showed a typical hairstylist-hair salon relationship.  In some arrangements a barber or hairstylist will pay rent and pocket all the money paid by his/her clients, while in this case the hairstylist kept a portion of the money paid by her clients and was provided with a place to work and some supplies.

Under AB2373, perhaps the analysis would have been different?  After all, some of the factors in AB2373 would have worked in applicant’s favor:  she (at least by the time of her claim) believed she had entered into an employee-employer relationship, the services were integrated into the principal’s business operations, and several other factors might make it harder for a workers’ compensation Judge to find for the defense.

A written agreement may be of some use in such cases, to avoid future misunderstanding.  Perhaps requiring the contractor to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for him or herself would not be a bad idea either.

Categories: Defenses, Legislation
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