In 1992, Mickey Carter was an independent contractor for the Kirby Vacuum Company. He was a door to door salesman. During one of his sales calls, he raped Dena Kristi Read.
He contracted with Kirby and filled out a Dealer’s Agreement and listed three references. Had they been contacted, Kirby would have learned of inappropriate sexual behavior at a previous employer and a conviction for indecency with a child. The ensuing law suit found that, although Carter was an independent contractor, Kirby still retained control of some of the scope of Carter’s work. Judgement for Plaintiff.
The Case Law in Texas
This case was brought up during the latest Governor’s race in Texas but few probably paid attention. What occurred in 1992 still occurs today across our country. The problem we face as a consumer is that, despite the smile, the name badge, and possibly a logo-laden vehicle, we do not know if that person is an employee or is a short term contract independent contractor. Or worse, we don’t know if the independent contractor is working for another independent contractor who wrangles field personnel for a fee.
The true danger in an independent contractor is that they may not be held to the same hiring practices of the primary company. A company whose brand you see everyday, may not conduct criminal background checks, drug screens, reference checks for an independent contractor. A great example is a moving company.
Online Contract Labor Cases
This case was brought up during the latest Governor’s race in Texas but few probably paid attention. What occurred in 1992 still occurs today across our country. The problem we face as a consumer is that, despite the smile, the name badge, and possibly a logo-laden vehicle, we do not know if that
Go on the often demonized Craigslist. Would you call the 2 Guys Movers from Craigslist to come into your home? Probably not. Do you think that a local moving company finds employees through Craigslist? Maybe. Those who are temporary hires are the independent contractors. They don’t work for the company. If they don’t work for the company then the independent contractors could be paid cash or even receive a 1099 but, unless there is a written protocol to conduct due diligence, the question remains: Am I letting a violent offender into my home? Is there a true threat to the safety of family?
The list of types of companies that use contract labor is endless: cleaning services, cable installers, plumbers, roofers, home computer techs, carpenters, …Uber, etc. Where there is a need to flex with seasonal demands or market conditions, temporary labor may be the route taken.
If you look at services such as Angie’s List or even the BBB, they make no claim about the employment practices or the employees who work at any company. They are strictly a service provider to assist in buying-decisions. Do these companies use temporary labor? It’s up to you to ask that question. What do they check, if anything?
You have the right to question service companies to the extent you need to feel comfortable. This story isn’t unique, there’s many more cases when a company has been involved in a lawsuit for failure to do the right background checks or implement customer safety protocols that led to sexual assault. One recent story involves the cable company Direct TV and a subcontractor accused of sexual assault of a customer in her home in West Hartford, Connecticut:
I encourage readers to pass this on through Facebook or smoke signals. I am an expert witness in security and in background checks when litigation is brought. Companies develop their own policies regarding the depth of a background check and, if they so choose, they can not conduct one at all. That practice has a great risk and could have considerable risk.