Most people would know Gabrielle Carteris as the actress who played Andrea Zuckerman in the television show “Beverly Hills, 90210.” She has spent most of the past decade playing minor roles and doing voice-overs in television series, and will now be entering the British Columbia courts as a plaintiff in a personal injury action.
Carteris was the lead female actor for the television series “Past Tense.” During a fight scene with actor Adrian Hughes on February 7, 2006 in Langley, B.C., Carteris claims to have suffered damages to her nerves as a result of prolonged choke positions over several hours.
A provisional application for workers’ compensation benefits was submitted on May 4, 2006, but was suspended when she did not elect to claim compensation. The employer’s report stated that Carteris was employed on a contractual basis.
Counsel for the applicants brought an application before the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT) pursuant to s. 257 of the Workers Compensation Act,
Certification to court
257 (1) Where an action is commenced based on
(a) a disability caused by occupational disease,
(b) a personal injury, or
the court or a party to the action may request the appeal tribunal to make a determination under subsection (2) and to certify that determination to the court.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), the appeal tribunal may determine any matter that is relevant to the action and within the Board’s jurisdiction under this Act, including determining whether
(a) a person was, at the time the cause of action arose, a worker,
(b) the injury, disability or death of a worker arose out of, and in the course of, the worker’s employment,
(c) an employer or the employer’s servant or agent was, at the time the cause of action arose, employed by another employer, or
(d) an employer was, at the time the cause of action arose, engaged in an industry within the meaning of Part 1.
(3) This Part, except section 253 (4), applies to proceedings under this section as if the proceedings were an appeal under this Part.
WCAT has sole jurisdiction to determine whether a personal injury is work-related, and in B.C. the Workers Compensation Board, WorkSafeBC, has sole jurisdiction over injuries arising in the course of employment. More on the purpose of these determinations are described by WCAT here.
Carteris was employed by Gabco, her own loan-out company which she fully owned and directed. All of Gabco’s income was generated by Carteris’ acting services, and all of its expenses were associated with these same services. Neither Carteris or Gabco had private insurance or had registered for Workers’ Compensation.
The Board referenced the Assessment Manual, which states,
(c) Principals of corporations or similar entities
As the incorporated entity is considered the employer, a director, shareholder or other principal of the company who is active in the operation of the company is generally considered to be a worker under the Act….
If a sole, active principal of a limited company is injured at a time when the company was not registered as an employer with the Board, the principal will not be considered a worker at that time and a claim by the principal or his or her dependents will be denied.
The Board also looked at Practice Directive 1-1-3 (A), which provides a hierarchical analytical framework in distinguishing a worker and an independent operator. Carteris would often do work for multiple films simultaneously, meeting the definition of a “labour contractor.”
The Board determined that because Carteris had not registered with the Board she was acting as an independent operator rather than a worker and did not fall within Part 1 of the Act. Because her injuries arose outside the course of the employment within the scope of Part 1, she will now be able to proceed in her tort claim before the courts.