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Vizcaino v. Microsoft Corp - 120 F.3d 1006 (9th Cir. 1997)

Rule:

Under the law of the State of Washington, a contract can be accepted, even when the employee does not know its precise terms.

Facts:

Appellant workers brought a class action against the employer, alleging that they were entitled to participate in certain pension and welfare plans of the employer. The workers executed documents stating that they were independent contractors and not entitled to the benefits offered by the employer. However, the IRS made a determination that they were employees and they used it as basis in seeking to participate in benefit plans. The district granted summary judgment in favor of the employer. The workers appealed.

Issue:

Did the signed agreement which stated that an employee was an independent contractor preclude him from claiming employee benefits from the employer?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The court held that the workers’ signed agreements regarding their status as independent contractors was not a waiver of their rights to benefits once it was determined that they were actually employees. The court remanded to the district court to determine any remaining issues regarding the rights of particular appellants in a non-ERISA plan and remanded to the plan administrator to decide the same issues regarding an ERISA plan.

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