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    Employment scenario

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    A. Read the following scenario:
    Little Lamb Company needs an additional programmer for a special project. The company enters into a contract with Mary to complete this project. Just as the project is nearing completion, a new need arises for her services. She is asked to continue with the company to complete the new project. While completing the new project, the supervisor begins working more closely with Mary and requires her to use company materials and equipment while adhering to company work schedules. After two years, economic conditions force the company to make budget cuts. Mary is asked to leave. Thirty days later, a major contract is acquired by the company, which reinstates the need for Mary's services as a programmer. However, the supervisor chooses to hire his equally-qualified cousin and not offer Mary the opportunity to return.

    b. Answer the following questions based on the scenario:
    1) Is Mary an independent contractor or an employee? Describe the factors that led to your determination.
    2) Has the employer/employee relationship changed over the course of time? If so, how?
    3) Was Mary's release legal under the doctrine of employment-at-will? Why or why not? If not, which of the following exceptions to employment-at-will have been violated? Why?
    a) Breach of public policy
    b) Breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing
    c) Breach of implied contract

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    Solution Preview

    You have an interesting scenario here. Let's tackle your questions one by one:
    1) The general rule is that the employer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work done by an independent contractor, and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result. To determine whether an individual is an employee or independent contractor under the common law, the relationship of the worker and the business must be examined. All evidence of control and independence must be considered. In an employee-independent contractor determination, all information that provides evidence of the degree of control and degree of independence must be considered. Facts that provide evidence of the degree of control and independence fall into three categories: behavioral control, financial control, and the type of relationship of the parties. Anyone who performs services for you is your employee if you can control what will be done and how it will be done.
    Here, there is a strong argument to be made that Mary was an employee and not an independent contractor. The company requires her to use its materials and equipment, thereby controlling the means and methods of accomplishing her programming, not just the actual programming itself. She adheres to the same work schedule as the ...

    Solution Summary

    Employment scenario is assessed.