Berlin v Northwestern National Life Insurance Co – 17.04

Berlin v Northwestern National Life Insurance Co
Digest no. 17.04

Section 43(h)

Cite as: Berlin v Northwestern Nat’l Life Ins Co, unpublished opinion of the Court of Appeals of Michigan, issued February 26, 1986 (Docket No. 77624).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Steven Berlin
Employer: Northwestern National Life Insurance Company
Docket no.: B81 14302 80900
Date of decision: February 26, 1986

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: Claimant was not an independent contractor under the “economic reality” test enunciated in Powell v ESC, 345 Mich 455 (1956).

FACTS: Claimant worked full-time for employer as an insurance agent and was paid $1600/mo. Social Security tax was withheld. Commissions generated by claimant amounted to $351.23, while he received total compensation in excess of $8000. Claimant worked exclusively for employer and reported to supervisors daily. He was provided with an office, secretarial help, computer, supplies, and training.

DECISION: Claimant was not in excluded employment under the MES Act.

RATIONALE: Employer provided extensive services and training. Claimant represented himself solely as employer’s agent and employer exercised a significant amount of control over claimant’s day-to-day activities. Claimant’s work was an integral part of employer’s business. Claimant was an employee under the “economic reality” test. The court distinguished this case from Farrell v Auto Club of America, 148 Mich App 165 (1986). “Here, claimant was apparently being paid by respondent at a steady rate during the development or probationary period. His income does not appear to have fluctuated according to the number of units he was able to sell.”

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated:
11/90