Government Affairs Director

Wisconsin Court of Appeals Discusses Independent Contractor Test

A recent decision from the Wisconsin Court of Appeals clarifies who qualifies as an “employee” for purposes of employers paying unemployment taxes and employees receiving unemployment insurance benefits. In Amazon Logistics, Inc. v. LIRC, the court of appeals held that Amazon did not meet its burden of proving that its “delivery partners” qualified as independent contractors. They were thus determined to be employees for the purposes of unemployment insurance benefits. Amazon was also assessed a significant unemployment tax bill of over $200,000, including penalties and interest.

In Wisconsin, individuals who are paid for performing work are presumed to be employees for unemployment compensation purposes. Employers can then rebut that presumption by showing that an individual satisfied a two-part test, each part containing a variety of factors, in order to classify the individual as an independent contractor.  The second part of the test requires the employer to meet 6 factors in a 9-factor test. Those factors include, among other things, looking at whether the individual holds themselves out publicly as being in an independent business, operates under multiple contracts, furnishes their own equipment, and incurs the main expenses associated with the work being performed.

The court of appeals held that Amazon was only able to show 5 of the 9 factors and thus failed to meet its burden. Among other factors, Amazon could not prove that the delivery partners held themselves out publicly as being in the delivery business, nor could it demonstrate that the delivery partners operated under multiple contracts.  This case is a good reminder that employers must conduct a fact-intensive inquiry into whether an individual performing services for an employer truly qualifies as an independent contractor for unemployment compensation purposes.  


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Erinn Stromberg, CCWP
Government/ Legislative Affairs Director

Ph: 262.544.4787
Term start:  1/1/2021


Erinn Stromberg is Vice President of Human Resources at Engauge Workforce Solutions (formerly Nissen & Associates Staffing Continuum) where she has worked for over 24 years.  Erinn has been with Engauge since its infancy and the company has grown to multiple offices throughout SE Wisconsin, along with an office in Fairfield, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan.  She is a Certified Contingent Workforce Professional and also a member of the Waukesha Area Safety Council Leadership Group where she holds a position as Outreach Coordinator.  Erinn began her tenure at Engauge as a recruiter and now focuses on internal and external customers with regards to Human Resources.  Erinn’s focus is on employment law, insurance benefits, worker’s compensation/safety, internal recruiting/retention, employee engagement, career development and training.   Prior to working at Engauge, Erinn was a national physician recruiter in Columbia, South Carolina and a national allied health recruiter.  Erinn is a UW-Madison graduate.  She resides in the Eagle/Mukwonago area and is married with three children.  Erinn is very excited to be involved with the SHRM family in her role as Legislative Director.  


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