Most questions surround the so-called independent contractor, as employers try to avoid the benefits, insurance and tax obligations attendant to having employees. The press is full of stories about Uber or Airbnb, but there are countless other examples involving millions of workers around the country in all sorts of industries from retail to food service to technology or legal services. Under Wis. Stats. Sec. 102.07(8)(b) a person is an employee unless all the elements apply:
A federal judge in Arizona ruled that truck drivers were not an independent contractor as reported in the Wall Street Journal on 1/13/17 quoted here. The district court ruled Swift Transportation Co. improperly categorized some of its drivers as contractors rather than employees. The case was based on improper wages paid, but also has implications to workers compensation coverage should a driver get injured on the job. Swift argued over the last seven years that disputes with drivers over their employee status should be handled through arbitration. The lawsuit went before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit multiple times, and Swift at one point asked the Supreme Court to weigh in. That request was denied.
Yes and no, as to whether independent contractors are covered by workers' compensation. In Wisconsin most workers will be covered by workers comp unless a very strict statutory exception applies, and it almost never does. So if a worker is injured and the employer says you are not covered by workers comp because you are an independent contractor, call an attorney before walking away.
The sharing economy, independent contractor and workers compensation are not in sync. The sharing economy is usually defined as goods or services that are accessed by consumers or businesses through the use of digital technology, especially through dedicated specific apps. Prominent examples are Ebay and Etsy (selling/buying goods online), Uber (taxi service), Airbnb (lodging).