Last week, the Department of Economic Opportunity issued an Amended Final Order favorable to our client, Florida Transfer, Inc. The case is Florida Transfer, Inc. v. Department of Economic Opportunity.
Florida Transfer is a moving and storage company. As part of its business, Florida Transfer hires laborers to perform local moving jobs, which includes driving trucks and moving items. Florida Transfer treats these laborers as independent contractors.
The case with the Department involved the issue of whether the laborers were employees of Florida Transfer or independent contractors. If employees, then Florida Transfer would owe unemployment tax on the wages paid to the laborers; if independent contractors, then Florida Transfer would not owe unemployment tax on the wages paid to the laborers.
The matter ultimately went to hearing before a Special Deputy. The Special Deputy issued a Recommended Order finding that Florida Transfer does not control the laborers, but ultimately concluding that the laborers are independent contractors. The Department then issued a Final Order accepting the Special Deputy’s findings and conclusions.
Florida Transfer appealed the Final Order to the First District Court of Appeal. On appeal, Florida Transfer focused on the Special Deputy’s finding that Florida Transfer does not control the laborers as several cases hold that a worker is an independent contractor if the hiring company lacks control over the worker. Dep’t of Health & Rehab. Servs. v. Dep’t of Labor & Emp’t Sec., 472 So. 2d 1284 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985); Freedom Labor Contractors of Fla., Inc. v. Div. of Unemployment Comp., 779 So. 2d 663 (Fla. 3d DCA 2001).
Florida Transfer thus mainly argued that the Department misapplied the law to the facts—the finding of no control must lead to the conclusion that the laborers are independent contractors. Here are links to Florida Transfer’s Initial Brief and Reply Brief detailing the issue.
After briefing on appeal was complete, the Department agreed to enter an Amended Final Order. In the Amended Final Order, the Department granted Florida Transfer the relief sought and concluded that the laborers are independent contractors. Although Florida Transfer had to appeal the matter to the First DCA, ultimately the correct conclusion was reached.
Jonathan Taylor is an associate attorney with The Law Offices of Moffa, Sutton, & Donnini, P.A. Mr. Taylor concentrates in the areas of Florida tax appeals and general administrative appeals. Mr. Taylor also volunteers with Guardian ad Litem to handle appellate matters. Mr. Taylor can be reached at 954-234-2884 or firstname.lastname@example.org.