Friday, January 27, 2012

Shot Girls: Employees or Independent Contractors?

You are in a bar, enjoying an evening with some friends. One friend has clearly had too much enjoyment and is loudly calling attention to himself and his condition. He is approached by a young woman, barely 18years old, who you have seen many times during the evening carrying a tray of brightly colored shots through the bar, selling them to customers.  She approaches your friend and in a matter of a few minutes, she manages to sell him 3 shots at $6 each, which he downs in succession.  He slips the "shot girl" a generous tip as she moves on to approach another group of revelers. Later that night, your friend drives his car into an intersection against a red light and paralyzes the driver of another car. Certainly, there must be dram shot liability under these circumstances! But wait - the bar owner says that the "shot girl" was not his employee.  Rather, she is an independent contractor - an entrepreneur - earning tips for her services. Is this a scam to avoid liability or is it a legitimate "yellow cab" arrangement? As with most situations in law, it depends . . . on the details of the relationship.

Some of these arrangements sound a but sketchy from a liability standpoint.  Others seem to be better organized from a legal standpoint to take advantage of the independent contractor liability rules. Do the shot girls have to carry dram shop insurance?

The Legal Environment of Business is indeed a landscape of craggy hills, leaving a cache of caves and crannies for the clever to covet.

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