After a two-week long trial, an advisory jury reached a unanimous verdict for a certified class in the American Family Insurance ERISA trial on April 18, 2017.
The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff in Jammal, et al. v. American Family Insurance and concluded that American Family improperly classified its agents as independent contractors instead of employees in order to deny benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
The plaintiff was represented by founding partner Greg Coleman in collaboration with co-counsel from several other firms.
The plaintiff’s argument centered on the fact that American Family reserved the right to exercise control over every significant aspect of the agent-employees’ businesses. The class action suit claimed that American family controlled the day-to-day operations of its agents and required them to follow company procedure.
Independent contractors are free to work outside of an employer’s control and exercise their own method and control over a job.
If an employer interferes or assumes control over a worker’s job or task, the worker is considered an employee.
Employee misclassification occurs when an employee is mislabeled as an independent contractor, which denies a worker the basic rights employees are entitled, including ERISA.
Since the jury’s verdict was an advisory decision, a formal ruling will still need to be made. A judge with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio will oversee the ruling and a damages proceeding will take place at a later time.
The ERISA lawyers at Greg Coleman are experienced in helping employees obtain the benefits they are entitled. If you have been denied these benefits, contact us for a free consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means we charge no upfront fees and only require payment if we recover damages for your claim.