Are You an Employer or Employee?

A recent employment law case evaluated whether a doctor should be considered an employer or an employee. In the disability discrimination case, an anesthesiologist was identified as an employee based on her employment agreement. However, after working for two years, she was promoted and became a shareholder and a member of the board of directors. Further, she began receiving a quarterly distribution based on her role on the board.

Several years later, the woman sustained serious injuries as the result of a kayaking accident and was unable to return to work full time. She then requested a leave of absence. Subsequently, the board voted to terminate the woman if she could not perform her duties as an anesthesiologist without restriction, and did not resign on her own. When she did not resign, she was fired. The woman then filed a lawsuit for disability discrimination pursuant to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). The lower court determined that the doctor should be considered an employer rather than an employee, and as a result was not protected by the ADA. The ADA makes it illegal to discriminate against qualified individuals as the result of a disability.

If you have questions about the ADA, or believe that you may have been discriminated against because of a disability, consulting with an experienced Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer is important to determine your rights and evaluate your next steps.

In this instance, the decision hinged on the doctors role as either an employer or an employee. Determining whether a worker is an employer or employee depends on the element of control. The Supreme Court has set forth a six-factor test to help make this determination. These factors include:

• Whether the organization can hire or fire the individual, or set the rules and regulations of the individual’s work;
• Whether and, if so, to what extent the organization supervises the individual’s work;
• Whether the individual reports to someone higher in the organization;
• Whether and, if so, to what extent the individual is able to influence the organization;
• Whether the parties intended that the individual be an employee, as expressed in written agreements or contracts; and • Whether the individual shares in the profits, losses, and liabilities of the organization.

The Court further noted that no one factor is decisive in making the decision; rather, all aspects of the relationship should be considered.

This case emphasizes just one aspect the complexities that may exist in determining what law apply to workers. If you have questions about your rights or believe that you may have been discriminated against, please contact the experienced Georgia disability discrimination lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP to request a case evaluation.