Maryland Cab Driver’s “Misclassification” Action Appropriately Dismissed

Misclassification of Workers is not Recognized as independent Tort

A Maryland cab driver, who sustained injuries in a work-related auto accident, may not maintain a civil action against the cab company for “independent contractor misclassification,” held a state appellate court recently [Awah v. Barwood, Inc., 2018 Md. App. LEXIS 853 (Aug. 31, 2018)].

Background

The driver, who leased a cab from Barwood, Inc., sustained injuries in a June 2013 auto accident involving a police vehicle. He filed an amended complaint against six defendants, including Barwood, contending, inter alia, that Barwood improperly classified the driver as an independent contractor instead of an employee. The various defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on various grounds. Following a hearing, the trial court entered judgment against the driver dismissing the amended complaint with prejudice. The driver appealed.

No Independent Tort

As to the misclassification allegation, the court stressed that if the driver believed that he had been “misclassified” and was entitled to compensation, then his exclusive remedy was by way of Maryland’s Workers’ Compensation Commission. The court added that If the Commission determined that an employer failed to properly classify an individual as an employee, the Commission would order the employer to secure compensation for the covered employee. The court also indicated that the driver had failed to put forth any facts establishing a duty on the part of Barwood to classify him as a regular employee, let alone facts establishing a breach of that duty or proximate cause that led to his sustaining injury.

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