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What is “Special Employment” in NJ Workers’ Comp Cases?

What is Special Employment in NJ Workers' Comp CasesWhat is “Special Employment” in NJ Workers’ Comp Cases?

In 2011, New Jersey plaintiff Mirtala Pineda sued Hector Zulueta, the son of the woman who employed Pineda at her jewelry store, owned by Artime, Inc. In 2004, Nilda Zulueta, the jewelry store employer, directed Pineda to work full time at the home of her son as a nanny and housekeeper. In addition to cleaning the house and doing home cooking, Pineda was also instructed to clean up after the family dog.

It was during one of these times that she was cleaning up after the dog that she fell and broke her ankle. As a result, she filed a Workers’ Comp claim against Artime Inc. and eventually collected benefits. She also filed a NJ Workers’ Comp suit against Hector Zulueta claiming negligent maintenance of his property. Due to the fact that Pineda was defined as a “special employee,” she was barred from suing Hector and his wife.

What is a special employee? Special employment is when an employee is borrowed from another employer. The following factors are what typically determine whether or not an individual is a special employee.

  • An express or implied contract exists between the special employee and special employer
  • The work that’s being done essentially is that of the special employer
  • The special employer has the right to control the details of the work, and pays the employee’s wages
  • The special employer has the power to hire, release, or rehire the employee

In this case, Pineda argued that the second factor was not met due to the fact that Hector Zulueta was not a business owner, however the court determined that Zulueta did not have to be a business owner to be considered a special employer, and therefore Pineda lost her case.

When employing staff, your clients must ensure that they are following all appropriate rules and regulations for employment. This is the easiest way to reduce their risk of facing a NJ Workers’ Comp case.

At Associated Specialty Insurance Agency (ASIA), we understand that no NJ Workers’ Comp case is completely avoidable. We offer comprehensive Workers’ Comp policies for a variety of professions. For more information, please contact us today at (866) 679-7457.

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