operates in Michigan and provides installation services for HughesNet and iDirect, nationwide providers of satellite internet systems and services.
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Miri... operates in Michigan and provides installation services for HughesNet and iDirect, nationwide providers of

satellite internet systems and services. Keller was one of approximately ten satellite-internet technicians who installed satellite dishes for Miri. Miri is one of many middlemen in the satellite-installation-services business. *** Miri pays technicians by the job, not by the hour. *** Keller worked six days a week from 5:00 am to midnight, taking only Sunday off. Keller completed two to four installations per day, and he had to travel between jobs. Miri paid Keller $110 per installation and $60 for each repair he performed. Miri did not withhold federal payroll taxes from Keller's payments or provide Keller benefits.

 

On November 23, 2012, Keller stopped working for Miri. Soon thereafter, he filed this lawsuit, alleging that Miri's payment system violates the FLSA. *** The district court granted Miri's motion for summary judgment, holding that Keller was an independent contract for Miri, not an employee. Keller appealed. Applying the economic realities test, the appellate court determined that there were many genuine issues of disputed fact which precluded summary judgment, and from which a jury could reasonably determine that Keller was an employee. Judgment for Miri was vacated, and the case remanded for trial



Case Questions:

1.     What was the legal issue in this case? What did the appeals court decide?

2.     Applying the economic realities test to the facts of this case, what are some of the main facts that would support the conclusion that the technicians were employees?

3. Applying the economic realities test to the facts of this case, what are some of the main facts that would support the conclusion that the technicians were independent contractors?

4. Considering the totality of the evidence, would you say that the technicians were working as employees or independent contractors? Why do you conclude that?

5. If it is determined on remand that the technicians are, in fact, employees, what should Miri do? Are there ways in which its relationship with the technicians could be restructured that would make the technicians more clearly independent contractors and also make business sense? Which ways?

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