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American Family Insurance

A split U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit panel has found more than 7,000 American Family Life Insurance agents are independent contractors and not employees and are thus not able to pursue a class action arguing they should be eligible for inclusion in the insurer’s health and retirement plan.

An Ohio judge had certified the class after holding a 12-day advisory trial, at the conclusion of which the jury issued a verdict declaring the agents were employees and not independent contractors.

But Senior Judges Danny Boggs and John Rogers said the trial court failed to give the appropriate weight to some of the factors the court must use to determine whether a plaintiff is an employee or independent contractor under the relevant precedent for disputes concerning benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

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