Article Summary

Many employment lawsuits rise or fall based on whether an individual is recognized legally as an "employee." Both employers and workers should understand that "employee" is not a label that either side may apply for its convenience — or even agree in a contract, necessarily. Instead, courts and administrative bodies will evaluate the employer/worker relationship based on several key criteria.

This article by TELG managing principal R. Scott Oswald and TELG principal & general counsel Nicholas Woodfield was published by Employment Law Daily on September 25, 2014. The full article is .

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The importance of being an “employee”

Prestigious employer has approximately 20 openings for a highly skilled position in a competitive field: compensation equaling $76,000 per year, work week of 50-60 hours during busy periods, and employee must abide by employer’s rules.

If you are thinking that this sounds like a job description for a certified public accountant, or maybe an auditor, you’re wrong. After NLRB Regional Director Peter Sung Ohr’s March 25, 2014, decision held that grant-in-aid scholarship football players at Northwestern University are "employees" under the NLRA, the above could be the educational institution’s new recruiting pitch.

This job description highlights the reality that although the college football players were labeled "student athletes" and not "employees," bodies such as the NLRB will look past such labels and examine the totality of the relationship when determining whether an individual is an employee.