Opinion by Justice FITZGERALD.
Appellee Claudine Woolf was an independent sales director for Mary Kay Inc. in March 1997 when she learned she was pregnant with her first child. The same month, Woolf was diagnosed with cancer. Woolf ultimately brought suit against Mary Kay Inc. under a California statute, alleging Mary Kay failed to accommodate her disability. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of Woolf, and the trial court's judgment adopted the jury's verdict except for its award of punitive damages. In this Court, Mary Kay argues there is legally insufficient evidence supporting the jury's finding that Woolf was Mary Kay's employee, the necessary threshold for liability under the California statute. We conclude as a matter of law that Woolf was not Mary Kay's employee. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's judgment.
Mary Kay manufactures cosmetics and enters into contractual relationships with individuals who purchase those cosmetics. The majority of those purchasers are "independent beauty consultants." The consultants may use the products themselves, or they may sell the products to other ultimate users. Consultants earn money by selling the products for more than they paid Mary Kay. Consultants may recruit new consultants. Some number of consultants who recruit enough new consultants
Woolf contracted to become a consultant in 1995. She was successful in both sales and recruiting, and she entered into a Sales Director Agreement (the "Agreement") with Mary Kay in September 1996. This Agreement governed the parties' relationship during the time period relevant to Woolf's lawsuit. The Agreement specifies that it will be governed by Texas law. It also provides that Woolf is an independent contractor and not an employee of Mary Kay.
Woolf made her claim against Mary Kay under California's Fair Employment and Housing Act, CAL. GOV'T CODE §§ 12900 et seq. (2004) [hereinafter, "FEHA"]. FEHA provides a recovery only to employees, thus excluding from its purview those who
CHOICE OF LAW
Contracting parties frequently express their own choice of law for the construction and interpretation of their agreement. Our supreme court has stated that judicial respect for such a choice advances the policy of protecting the parties' expectations. DeSantis v. Wackenhut Corp., 793 S.W.2d 670, 677 (Tex.1990). Accordingly, the parties' contractual choice of law will be given effect so long as the contract bears a substantial relationship to the chosen state and so long as the parties' choice does not thwart a fundamental policy of the state whose law would otherwise be applied. See id. (adopting rule of RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF CONFLICT OF LAWS § 187, "Law of the State Chosen by the Parties").
In this case, neither party questions that there is a "substantial relationship" between Texas and these parties. Instead, the argument centers on the second prong of the DeSantis test. That prong rejects application of the parties' choice of law when:
Id. at 678 (quoting RESTATEMENT at § 187(2)(b)). This second prong of the test incorporates three necessary elements.
We conclude the parties' choice of law provision is not undermined by either exception to the rule calling for application of that choice. Accordingly, we will apply Texas law in determining Woolf's employment status.
WOOLF'S EMPLOYMENT STATUS
Mary Kay first challenges the legal sufficiency of the evidence supporting the jury's finding that Woolf was its employee. When, as in this case, the appellant challenges the legal sufficiency of the evidence to support a finding on which it did not have the burden of proof at trial, the appellant must demonstrate that no evidence exists to support the adverse finding. Croucher v. Croucher, 660 S.W.2d 55, 58 (Tex.1983). We will sustain a no evidence point of error when (1) the record discloses a complete absence of evidence of a vital fact; (2) the court is barred by rules of law or of evidence from giving weight to the only evidence offered to prove a vital fact; (3) the evidence offered to prove a vital fact is no more than a mere scintilla; or (4) the evidence establishes conclusively the opposite of the vital fact. Marathon Corp. v. Pitzner, 106 S.W.3d 724, 727 (Tex. 2003). "Although it is often stated that a reviewing court performing a no-evidence review must disregard all evidence contrary to the finding in question, we need not `disregard undisputed evidence that allows of only one logical inference.'" St. Joseph Hosp. v. Wolff, 94 S.W.3d 513, 519-20 (Tex.2002) (quoting Universe Life Ins. Co. v. Giles, 950 S.W.2d 48, 51 n. 1 (Tex. 1997)).
The Texas Supreme Court has recently set forth the test to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor: whether the employer has the right to control the progress, details, and methods of operations of the work. Limestone Prods. Distribution, Inc. v. McNamara, 71 S.W.3d 308, 312 (Tex.2002). The court identified five factors that help "measure" the right to control: (1) the independent nature of the worker's business; (2) the worker's obligation to furnish necessary tools, supplies, and materials to perform the job; (3) the worker's right to control the progress of the work except about final results; (4) the time for which the worker is employed; and (5) the method of payment, whether by unit of time or by the job. Id. In Limestone Products, the court applied this "right-to-control test" and concluded the defendant's truck driver was an independent contractor as a matter of law. Id. at 313. We set forth the court's factual analysis because it guides our own:
Id. at 312-13.
The facts concerning Woolf's status were elicited from Woolf herself, from Mary Kay employees, from other consultants and directors, and from trial exhibits such as the Agreement and Woolf's tax returns for the years she operated her business. Although Woolf sometimes attempted to characterize her working conditions differently, she testified to the same basic facts as the other witnesses. We set forth those facts with the Limestone Products factors in mind.
Mary Kay sold its cosmetics to Woolf for resale. Mary Kay directed the cosmetics must be sold to end users (i.e., not to retail establishments) and circumscribed the use of Mary Kay trademarks, but otherwise Woolf had broad discretion in how she operated her business. She did not work any particular hours; she could work as much or as little as she chose. She could sell the cosmetics to any user or keep them for her own use. She could sell them in any geographic area in the country. She set her own prices for the cosmetics, thus controlling the profit she made from the sales aspect of her business. She could (and did) choose to recruit more consultants and try to qualify as a director, or she could remain a beauty consultant with no monthly purchase requirements. As a director, Woolf voluntarily took on the requirement of meeting monthly purchase obligations with her unit. She rented her own office space and purchased her own computer, equipment, business clothes, and business cards. If she chose to attend Mary Kay seminars, she paid her own way. She received no traditional employee benefits from Mary Kay: no health insurance, vacation, or holiday pay. Her pay was categorized as commission.
Despite the above-listed facts, Woolf offered evidence at trial that she felt controlled by Mary Kay; she testified that she felt she had to follow suggested company methodology if she wanted to be successful. Such testimony is not evidence of Mary Kay's right to control the details of Woolf's work. The record establishes
Woolf also depends heavily on the fact that either party could terminate the Agreement for any reason on thirty days notice. Woolf characterizes this arrangement as employment at will. She argues that parties to a contract cannot quit or be fired as parties to an employment relationship can, because to do so would amount to a breach of the contract. Under the facts of this case, we disagree. Our review of the Agreement makes clear that the termination provision is simply the parties' agreement concerning how their contractual relationship can be brought to an end. There can be no breach of contract when the manner of termination of the relationship is the manner contemplated by the contract's own terms. We reject Woolf's argument that Mary Kay's right to terminate the Agreement was evidence Woolf was an employee rather than an independent contractor. See Cont'l Ins. Co. v. Wolford, 526 S.W.2d 539, 541-42 (Tex. 1975) (right to discharge worker not evidence that details of work were subject to principal's control; worker was independent contractor as matter of law).
We conclude there was "no more than a mere scintilla" of evidence that Woolf was Mary Kay's employee. Further, we conclude the evidence conclusively established the opposite fact, that Woolf was an independent contractor. Accordingly, the evidence was legally insufficient to support the jury's finding that she was Mary Kay's employee. See Marathon Corp., 106 S.W.3d at 727. We decide Mary Kay's first issue in its favor.
Given our resolution of Mary Kay's first issue, we need not address the parties' remaining issues. We reverse the trial court's judgment and render judgment that Woolf take nothing on her claim against Mary Kay.
CAL. GOV'T CODE § 12940(m) (emphasis added).
Id. at 678.