Hanson v. Transportation General, Inc.
245 Conn. 613 (1998)

Facts:

  • The decedent, under an owner-operator agreement, drove a Metro cab from 1987 until he was murdered on the job in 1990.
  • The plaintiff, Janet Hanson, the surviving spouse filed a workers’ compensation claim to recover survivor benefits.

History:

  • The compensation commissioner for the third district dismissed Hanson’s claim.
    • He was an independent contractor and not an employee of Metro.
  • The compensation review board affirmed.
  • The Appellate Court affirmed.

Issue:
Whether an owner-operator of a taxicab qualifies as an employee of the taxicab company with which he contracted to provide taxicab service.

Holding:
No. Affirmed.

Reasoning:

  • First, the court stuck with the longstanding “right to control” test as opposed to the “relative nature of the work” test.
    • The “right to control” test determines the relationship between a worker and a putative employer by asking whether the putative employer has “the right to control the means and methods” used by the worker in the performance of his or her job.
    • Here, Metro purposely took care to avoid such indicia of control:
    • Drivers could set their own hours;
    • Work anywhere in the Metro service area;
    • Refuse to accept dispatch calls;
    • Hire a second driver for the cab;
    • Had sole responsibility for all expenses related to operation of their cabs;
    • Had the right to regain total ownership rights to their cabs upon the termination of their relationship with Metro;
    • Metro did not pay any salary or fringe benefits to the drivers; and
    • Did not require the drivers to report their fares to Metro.
  • Thus, the driver was an independent contractor.

Rule: The “right to control” test is the appropriate test for determining the employer-employee relationship.