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Ohio high court reverses in assisted living employee vs. contractor case

assisted living

The Ohio Supreme Court has reversed a ruling by the state’s 10th District Court of Appeals that sided with a company that provides in-home care to developmentally disabled individuals who asserted that its workers are independent contractors and not employees.

The high court Monday, in reversing the appeals court, sent the case back to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, which previously determined those working for Columbus-based Friendship Supported Living Inc. were employees, not contractors.

If the workers were classified as employees, Friendship would be responsible for carrying workers compensation insurance.

In 2017, the bureau audited the company, finding that the workers were employees, but Friendship’s owner contested the findings.

The case ended up going through various stages of administrative and judicial appeals, and in 2019 Friendship sought review with the Ohio 10th District Court of Appeals seeking to be reimbursed for workers compensation insurance premiums it incurred as a result of the bureau classifying the workers as employees.

The appeals court agreed with Friendship and ordered the bureau to vacate its order.

The bureau subsequently appealed the 10th District’s decision to the state Supreme Court.

On Monday, the high court reversed the appeals court ruling and granted a limited order requiring the comp bureau to issue its own amended order accounting for “deficiencies” that the justices said were included in the bureau’s initial ruling that found the workers to be employees and not contractors.