According to the Official Website of the Village People, the group’s original lineup included Disco King, Construction Worker, Cowboy, Leatherman, Indian, and two “Nondescripts.” They were later joined by Cop, G.I., and Biker. Keeping with the times, as we know the Village People do, the costume formerly known as Indian has been rebranded as Native American. (True!)
But Cop or No Cop, Biker or No Biker, there has always been a Construction Worker since the band’s founding in 1977.
A recent court case involving construction workers tests whether a general contractor in control of a worksite (we’ll call him “Macho Man,” after the 1978 hit) has a legal duty to protect another contractor’s employee (we’ll call him “Hot Cop,” after a different 1978 V.P. tune), when none of Macho Man’s own employees are at risk.
The issue arose during a library construction project in Austin, Texas. One subcontractor refused to allow its employees to work near a 12-foot high wall of dirt that had not been properly sloped or reinforced. A citation was issued to the general contractor for allowing the unsafe condition, but it was undisputed that none of the general contractors’ own employees were endangered by the wall of dirt.
“Why does that matter?” you might be asking.
Although the condition was a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA), the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had taken the position since 1981 (when the V.P. released the album, Renaissance) that “OSHA regulations protect only an employer’s own employees.”
The Court’s ruling earlier this week abandoned that rule, instead finding that a general contractor could be cited under OSHA for allowing an unsafe condition that affected only the employees of another contractor.
In response to the Court’s ruling, the Village People have reportedly abandoned plans to introduce a nebishy Health Inspector character on their next tour.
© 2018 Todd Lebowitz, posted on WhoIsMyEmployee.com, Exploring Issues of Independent Contractor Misclassification and Joint Employment. All rights reserved.