EXTRA! EXTRA! News Carriers Are “Employees” For Purposes of Unemployment

In Driscoll v. Worcester Telegram & Gazette, #07-P-344 (September 25, 2008), the Appeals Court has ruled that a 21-year veteran paper deliverer for eight major newspapers is an “employee” and therefore eligible for unemployment benefits. The Court rejected the employer’s gambit of classifying news carriers as “independent contractors.” To support its argument that the newspaper deliverer was not an “employee,” the newspaper actually boasted that the delivererhad the independent authority to decide “whether to wrap the papers in plastic or rubber bands, and where to purchase these supplies.” Thankfully, the Court rejected this evidence as trivial and noted how the terms and conditions of employment were controlled and directly supervised by the employer. This victory for the news carrier entitles him to very modest financial and job assistance as he attempts to transition to a new employer.

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