To employ, then, under the IWC‘s definition, has three alternative definitions. It means: (a) to exercise control over the wages, hours or working conditions, or (b) to suffer or permit to work, or (c) to engage, thereby creating a common law employment relationship.Slip Opinion, at 35.
The Court’s opinion goes on to discuss application of each prong under the facts of the case, which dealt with whether downstream entities from the immediate employer of strawberry field workers were technically employers under California law. Ultimately, the Court concluded they were not. However, in my humble opinion, this decision is nonetheless a substantial one, and likely will place the issue of “employer” status directly in question for a lot of business relationships formed under the more narrow economic realty/control test regime.