PPGMR attorneys Scott Morgan and Micah Goodwin recently procured a favorable decision from the Arkansas Supreme Court in a workers' compensation case that had far-reaching implications for businesses in Arkansas. At issue in Brookshire's Grocery Co. v. Morgan, 2018 Ark. 62 was the employment status of an off-duty sheriff's deputy who was injured apprehending a fleeing shoplifter while providing a security presence at a grocery. Arkansas law puts forth a variety of consideration factors for courts to use in determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Both the Worker's Compensation Commission and Arkansas Court of Appeals had previously hinted that the deptuy's compensation from the grocer should be considered a factor that indicated the deputy was an employee, even though most of the other consideration factors suggested the opposite conclusion. See Brookshire's Grocery Co. v. Morgan, 2017 Ark. App. 387 (2017).
The Arkansas Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals, explaining that "[w]hile Brookshire provided Deputy Morgan with compensation, that is of no moment because both employees and independent contractors are paid." After applying the pertinent consideration factors to the case, the Court determined that "there is very little in the record to suggest that [the deputy] was not an independent contractor" and "nothing in the record to indicate that [he] should be considered an employee." This success means that in future workers' compensation cases, courts in Arkansas will not consider payment to workers when determining their work status.