‘At-will’ clause doesn’t turn contractor into employee

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in Firing,Human Resources

Do your independent-contractor agreements include a clause that allows either you or the other party to terminate the relationship at will, without stating a cause? If so, rest easy. Such a clause doesn’t convert the independent-contractor relationship to an employee/employer relationship.

Recent case:
Al Varisco sued Gateway Science and Engineering for wrongful termination, claiming he had been an employee. The company said Varisco was never an employee; he was an independent contractor.

The California Court of Appeal agreed with the company, ruling that a single clause in the agreement that allowed either party to terminate at will didn’t transform their relationship into an employment relationship. Everything else in the agreement showed Varisco was an independent contractor. (Varisco v. Gateway Science and Engineering, Inc., No. B200339, California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, 2008)

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