Michigan: Employee May Not Use Misclassification Statute to Sue Employer in Tort

Michigan: Employee May Not Use Misclassification Statute to Sue Employer in Tort

In a split decision, the Supreme Court of Michigan held that MCLS § 418.171(4)—a provision that prohibits the misclassification of certain employees in order to avoid workers’ compensation liability—did not apply to a plaintiff/employee who, following an industrial accident, sued his employer, alleging an intentional tort. With its decision, the Court reversed a contrary holding by the state’s Court of Appeals. The majority of the high court acknowledged that In limited circumstances, the statute provided a civil remedy to an employee of a contractor engaged by a principal. Citing Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the majority indicated that in as much as plaintiff was not the employee of a contractor engaged by the defendant/employer, the employee misclassification provision did not apply to him. Plaintiff contended that the employer should be liable in tort because it had used coercion, intimidation, deceit, or other means to encourage plaintiff, who would otherwise be considered an employee, to pose as a contractor for the purpose of evading liability under the state’s workers’ compensation act. 

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. 

See McQueer v. Perfect Fence Co., 2018 Mich. LEXIS 1343 (July 10, 2018)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 70.01.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law