Select Page

Employment Law
Wayne State University Law School
Wellman, Vincent A.

       I.      Overview
a.       Master-Servant
b.      Common law
                                                              i.      Stark v. Parker (1824) – Employee worked on farm for a year then quit. Court held he didn’t have a right to recover until he performed all his K obligations
                                                            ii.      Brittan v. Turner (1843) – Same as above, expect employee wins. Quantum meruit, and D can sue to any ext he was harmed by P failure to perform
       I.      Ch. 1: The benefits and burdens of employment: The stakes of employment
c.       Distinguishing employee from ind. contractor – by far most commonly litigated issue in defining the employee relationship
                                                              i.      McCary v. Wade (6) – Eer doesn’t want him to be eee. Ps sue employer based on vicarious L for trucker’s neg. Court held trucker was an IK based on a number of factors, so employer not L.
                                                            ii.      Fitzgerald v. Mobil Oil Corp. (9, MI) – Eee does want him to be eee. P sued Mobil for injuries, Mobil claimed P was an employee, not IK, and therefore his only remedy was that provided under MI WC and Disability Act. Court found all 4 provision of econ realities test to be met, exclusive control not required, D had power to stop P from engaging in daily tasks, P is employee and WC is only remedy
1.      Issue: is P employee or ind K?
2.      Rule: MI uses the econ realities test. Language of k not controlling.
a.       Control –
b.      Payment of Wages
c.       Right to hire/fire/discipline –
d.      Performance/Integral part of business-
                                                          iii.      Natkin v. Winfrey (16) – Eee does want him to be eee. photographers sue Oprah for using photos w/o permission. Issue over whether Ps employees or IKs? They never had them sign agreement. Prof says lesson here is don’t leave it up to the courts. Get agreement, not about employee v. IK, but about the status of the IP.
d.      Distinguishing employer from employee
                                                              i.      Clackamas v. Wells (26) – Eer doesn’t want to be and eee. P filed suit under ADA, but t/c dismissed since company had less than 15 employees. USSC said the 4 shareholder physicians counted as employees
1.      Rule: the CL element of control is the principle to follow in determining whether shareholders are employees.
2.      Reasoning: six factors
3.      Held: remanded for further determination
4.      Dissent: Ginsburg said they function as CL employees

as offered spot w/ other company, and his employer induced him to stay by saying he’d have a job until he retired. P was fired and sued. Court held that the promise, absent add’l consideration, created a K that was terminable at the will of either party. Forbearance of the other job was not sufficient consideration.
                                                            ii.      Greene v. Oliver Realty, Inc. (70) – P agreed to work below union wages in exchange for life employment. Court said this raised jury question as to rebuttal of at-will presumption that they Ked for a definite period. Factors are the parties intent and if consideration was given. Court must enforce the parties intent.
j.        Oral and implied contract rights to job security
                                                              i.      Reliance on offers of employment
Goff-Hamel v. Obstetricians (79) – P was at-will employee, but relied to her detriment on D’s promise of employment by leaving job of 11 years. Court held that P, as MOL, did not have a claim for breach of her at-will employment, but