Urgent Nurses Resources Inc., is a nursing registry. It provides hospitals with temporary nurses at hospitals’ requests.
After Urgent receives a hospital’s request for a temporary nurse, it offers certain nurses in its registry, who have been preapproved by the hospital, the requested assignment. The nurses are free to reject the assignment without explanation or penalty. Once a nurse accepts an assignment, Urgent reviews with the nurse a checklist provided by the hospital of the assignment’s duties. If the nurse can perform the duties, the nurse reports to the hospital. The nurse provides his or her own uniform, shoes, stethoscope, watch, and occasionally other small supplies (such as pens and pen lights) for the assignment, but does not provide any other equipment. The nurse completes the assignment, usually a shift, under the supervision of hospital. Once the nurse completes the assignment, the hospital pays Urgent for the nurse’s and Urgent’s services. Urgent later distributes the nurse’s portion of the payment to the nurse.
Urgent allows nurses in its registry to choose whether to be designated as an employee or independent contractor. To be classified as an independent contractor, Urgent requires, in part, that the nurses sign an independent contractor agreement and provide their own liability insurance. These nurses receive Internal Revenue Service forms 1099 (1099 Nurses).
Urgent was audited by State Fund at the end of 2007 and 2008. State Fund determined Urgent owed it premiums for the 1099 Nurses. Urgent disagreed and refused to pay. State Fund sued Urgent for the premiums. The trial court held the 1099 Nurses were independent contractors and consequently Urgent did not owe State Fund for the 1099 Nurses’ premiums. State Fund appealed. The trial court was affirmed in the unpublished case of SCIF v Urgent Nurses Resources Inc.
Urgent presented substantial evidence the 1099 Nurses were independent contractors under the Borello factors. (S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations (1989) 48 Cal.3d 341, 349), It is of note other courts have similarly decided that nursing registries are agents for independent contractor nurses. For example, in Avchen v. Kiddoo, the court reasoned that nursing registries role was that of a commercial matchmaker, where a commissioned go-between attempts to put buyers and seller of goods and services in contact with each other and found that nursing registries are not employers.