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An attorney’s Title VII bias and retaliation claims were dismissed because she was not a bank “employee,” ruled the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The North Carolina bank initially hired Jewel A. Farlow when she was an associate at a law firm. Farlow continued to represent the bank when she went into private practice. Two years later, Farlow and the bank discussed the possibility of her working as in-house counsel. On her employment application, she disclosed that she had previously been convicted on two counts of misdemeanor larceny. Unless the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation gave its approval, the convictions prevented Farlow from becoming a bank employee. She moved her office into the bank anyway and signed a contract to provide legal services as an independent contractor. A few months later, she complained about a sexually and racially hostile environment. Subsequently, her employment was terminated. Farlow’s hostile work environment and retaliation claims were dismissed by a federal district court because the court concluded that she was not an “employee” as defined by Title VII. ( Farlow v Wachovia Bank of North Carolina, 4th Cir, 81 EPD 40,673) The common law of agency’s definition of “employee” determines whether a person is an “employee,” stated the appellate court. Therefore, it considered the bank’s right to control the manner and means of Farlow’s work. The court noted that she was provided with a company car and computer and was required to attend staff meetings and comply with the dress code. The bank also provided her with administrative assistants and determined when she had access to her office. However, the court noted that Farlow was not provided with business cards and did not use bank letterhead. The bank did not prevent her from representing other clients. Moreover, Farlow did not receive benefits, she was paid in response to submitted bills, the bank did not pay taxes for her or withhold taxes from her, her earnings were reported to the IRS on a Form 1099 instead of a W-2, and she filed her income taxes under a self-employed status. Considering these factors, the appellate court concluded that Farlow was an independent contractor, not a bank employee. Accordingly, the dismissal of her Title VII claims was affirmed. � 2001, CCH INCORPORATED. All Rights Reserved.

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