California Appellate Court Issues a Decision That Mutual of Omaha Insurance Agents Qualify as Independent Contractors as a Matter of Law


On December 31, 2011, as a final act for the year, the First Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal issued a good appellate decision for employers on the issue of independent contractor status, Arnold v. Mutual of Omaha. The case creates a veritable roadmap for insurance companies on how to treat agents so that they maintain their status as independent contractors rather than employees.

Ms. Arnold worked as a non-exclusive insurance agent for Mutual of Omaha, which meant she was authorized to sell their products but was free to (and did) sell products of other insurance companies. Nonetheless, she claimed she was actually an employee rather than an independent contractor (IC), and that she therefore was entitled to recover for reimbursement of expenses and waiting time penalties for unpaid final wages on behalf of herself and a purported class of similarly situated agents. The factual record was very strong for the defense as to the limited control Mutual of Omaha exercised over Arnold (and its other agents)...

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