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Court Cases

April 30, 2021

Waste Management of Texas, Inc. v. Stevenson

Texas Supreme Court
The Texas Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s judgment and concluded that, in this dual-employment case, the Plaintiff-Employee qualified as the Defendant-Agency-Client’s employee under the Workers’ Compensation Act. The Master Agreement between the Defendant-Staffing-Agency and Defendant-Agency-Client contained a clause that stated, “Personnel shall be independent contractors in respect of [Defendant-Agency-Client] and shall not be employees of [Defendant-agency-Client].” The court found that the fact the Defendant-Agency-Client did not directly employ the Plaintiff-Employee provided by Defendant-Staffing-Agency did not factor prominently in the analysis. Nor, the Court reasoned, did the result turn on the contractual relationship between Defendant-Staffing-Agency and Defendant-Agency-Client. Instead, the Court determined the Defendant-Agency-Client qualified as the worker’s employer under the Act by examining the parties’ conduct at the jobsite. Rather than focus on the legal question of who had the contractual right to control Plaintiff-Employee’s work, the Court looked instead to the factual question of who exercised the right to control as a practical matter in the course of the parties’ daily work. The concurrence opinion held that the contractual label created a fact issue regardless of the facts on the ground but also agreed that the right to control was conclusively established in this case.
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