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CLANCEY v. AMERICAN MGMT. ASSN.

January 9, 1992

WILLIAM G. CLANCEY, NICHOLAS J. CONTAKOS, FRANCISCO DELLUNDE, PETER A. FROEHLICH, KENNETH B. McDANIEL, MICHAEL RICHARDS and DONALD TAYLOR, Plaintiffs, against AMERICAN MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION, INC., Defendant.

FREEH


The opinion of the court was delivered by: LOUIS J. FREEH

LOUIS J. FREEH,

 UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE:

 In this age discrimination action, Defendant American Management Association ("AMA") *fn1" moves for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Plaintiffs oppose the motion. For the reasons stated at oral argument and below, AMA's motion is denied.

 Plaintiffs allege in their complaint that AMA violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") and other New York State statutes relating to age discrimination. AMA claims that plaintiffs were independent contractors rather than employees of AMA and that the law precludes independent contractors from asserting claims under ADEA. AMA also argues that this Court should apply the hybrid, 'economic realities/right to control', test rather then the pure 'economic realities' test in determining whether plaintiffs were 'employees' or 'independent contractors'.

 In opposing the motion, Plaintiffs argue that there are sufficient material facts in dispute to create a genuine issue over whether plaintiffs, as workers for AMA, were employees or independent contractors of AMA.

 FACTS

 Construing the record in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, the relevant facts are as follows. AMA is a not-for-profit educational organization offering services to individuals and companies interested in improving business management. In the summer of 1982, AMA eliminated their entire field sales force but over a period of time offered certain ex-employees, including plaintiffs, an opportunity to become independent contractors associated with AMA. Plaintiffs accepted AMA's offer and each entered into separate but identical sales contracts. Plaintiffs were paid on commission. AMA provided a six month start-up salary, called a "training allowance", of $ 2,000 per month. AMA also determined the geographic territory within which each plaintiff was permitted to sell AMA services, and plaintiffs were not permitted to represent any person or organization involved in a business similar to AMA.

 AMA also required plaintiffs to attend training seminars once a year and were given manuals with scripts for on-site and telephone solicitation. Plaintiffs often received personal assistance and supervision from AMA's field marketing division. Plaintiffs were directed by AMA to report to one of AMA's two Directors of Sales. According to AMA's job description, the principal function of the AMA Sales Director is to "plan, organize, staff, direct and control the activities of the Regional Representatives". Plaintiffs were all Regional Representatives.

 Discussion

 On a motion for summary judgment a court "cannot try issues of fact; it can only determine whether there are issues to be tried." Donahue v. Windsor Locks Board of Fire Commissioners, 834 F.2d 54, 58 (2d Cir. 1987). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rattner v. Netburn, 930 F.2d 204, 209 (2d Cir. 1991).

 Contrary to AMA's assertion, the Court concludes that the Second Circuit does not require a different application of legal principles to ADEA and Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") cases. Rather, the Second Circuit appears to have adopted the 'economic realities' standard for determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor regardless of which discrimination statute a party sues under. Brock v. Superior Care, Inc., 840 F.2d 1054, 1059 (2d Cir. 1988). While it is true that Brock was an FLSA case, FLSA and ADEA have almost identical sections defining "employee". Moreover, since both statutes have a similar purpose, which is to eradicate discrimination, the Court adopts the FLSA standard applied in Brock to this ADEA case. Krijn v. Pogue Simone Real Estate Co., 752 F.Supp 102, 104 n.2 (S.D.N.Y. 1990). *fn2"

 Regardless of which test the Court adopts, however, determining whether plaintiffs are employees or independent contractors is a question of law while the existence and degree of the legal factors considered are questions of fact. Brock v. Superior Care, Inc., 840 F.2d 1054, 1059 (2d Cir. 1988). Under the economic realities test, there are five factors to consider in determining whether individuals are employees or independent contractors. These factors were first developed in United States v. Silk, 331 U.S. 704, 67 S. Ct. 1463, 91 L. Ed. 1757, 35 A.F.T.R. (P-H) 1174 (1947). The five factors are: (1) the degree of control exercised by the employer over the workers; (2) the workers' opportunity for profit or loss and their investment in the business; (3) the degree of skill and independent initiative required to perform the work; (4) the permanence or duration of the working relationship; and (5) the extent to which the work is an integral part of the employer's business. 840 F.2d 1054 at 1058-59 . No single factor is conclusive. Instead the court is to look at the factors in the light of the totality of the circumstances. 840 F.2d at 1059. "The ultimate concern is whether, as a matter of economic reality, the workers depend upon someone else's business for the opportunity to render service or are in business for themselves". 840 F.2d at 1059.

 Applying the five economic factors to this case requires weighing material facts. For example, did plaintiffs each have an opportunity to make a profit and in turn accept the risks involved which comes from being independent? AMA asserts they did, and points to the fact that plaintiffs were not salaried workers but were paid on commission. Plaintiffs allege that they did not have a sufficient opportunity for profit because AMA's business took up all of their time. Furthermore, under their contracts with AMA, plaintiffs were ...


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