Court of Appeals reconsiders Meyers v. SAIF in light of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Gadalean
Meyers v. SAIF has been a long time coming– the case has been on appeal since 2013, traveling all the way up to the Oregon Supreme Court which remanded the case to the Court of Appeals in 2019. It appears, however, we finally have an answer to the question of whether a claimant was a subject worker when she was injured during orientation and paid training.
The claimant in this case had previously worked as a telemarketer for CMG, a company that performed contract work for the employer. When CMG closed its operations in 2011, the employer, Jadent, encouraged CMG employees to apply. Although claimant had not previously applied, she contacted Jadent about the status of her application in 2013. A Jadent representative confirmed claimant had not filed an application previously but nonetheless invited claimant to return to the office to attend an orientation and paid training. The orientation required the presentation of photo identification, the completion of personnel paperwork, and agreement with Jadent’s “rules of the office.” On the day of the orientation and training, claimant arrived at Jadent’s office. As she opened a door to a stairwell leading to Jadent’s offices, a Jadent employee came through the door, which flew open and struck claimant, knocking her to the floor. Medical imaging revealed a right hip fracture, for which claimant received medical treatment including surgery. She was never formally hired following the injury. SAIF denied the claim, asserting that claimant was not a subject worker at the time of her injury.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals held claimant was a subject worker when she was injured because the employer invited claimant to attend the orientation and paid training and that, but for the injury, claimant would have completed the orientation and begun training, and “more than likely” would have been hired. The Court found the Board did not have substantial evidence or reason in its conclusion that claimant did not have a reasonable expectation of payment for her services at the time of her injury. SAIF appealed the decision to the Supreme Court which remanded the case for reconsideration in light of Gadalean v. SAIF, 364 Or. 707 (2019).
In Gadalean, the Supreme Court held that a person is not considered a subject worker when an employer does not offer to pay a putative employee for services because, pursuant to ORS 656.005(30), a worker is defined as a person who takes an obligation to provide services with a reasonable expectation of remuneration. As such, it found that the claimant was not a subject worker when he was injured during a pre-employment driving test because the employer had not made an offer of remuneration for the test and the claimant, therefore, did not have a reasonable expectation of remuneration at the time of the injury.
With Gadalean’s holding that at the time of an injury, a worker must have engaged to furnish services with a reasonable expectation of remuneration, the Court of Appeals reconsider its original holding in this case. It found that the facts of Gadalean were distinguishable because, here, the employer had invited claimant for orientation and paid training, and that although claimant never completed the training because of the injury, she had a reasonable expectation that she would have been paid upon arrival for orientation.
This case is a good reminder that even someone who has not been formally hired can be considered a subject worker and entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. With the holdings of Gadalean and Meyers in mind, employers should be mindful of offering to pay a potential employee for attendance or orientation, training, or pre-employment testing.
If you have any further questions about subject workers or the holdings in these cases, please feel free to contact me at or 503-595-6115.