Title VII Claims Fail When Plaintiff is an Independent Contractor

A recent Massachusetts District Court decision follows a series of cases in which a plaintiff is unable to puruse a claim under Title VII because the plaintiff is an independent contractor. In Jones v. Montachusett Regional Transit Authority, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 02-089-22) (13 pages) (Hillman, J.) (Civil Action No. 19-11093-TSH) (March 28, 2022), the plaintiff, Paul Jones, claimed that the defendent had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §200e, et seq. (“Title VII”) alleging discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment and violations of the Massachusetts anti-discrimination statute.

A plaintiff must be an employee to be able to state a claim under either statute., the plaintiff must be an employee. Title VII states:

it shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer … to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin.

The court reviewed the facts and concluded that the plaintiff was an independent contractor, not an employee, and was not able to pursue his claim under Title VII or Massachusetts discrimination statute.

The court reviewed applied the common law test and considered factors such as the plaintiff determines his rates, hours, and could accept or reject any assignment. Based on all the factors, the court concluded that the plaintiff was an independent contractor and not able to bring a claim under either statute.

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