Truckers File Class Action Suit Against Port Firm
Employee misclassification is against the law. It refers to a company misclassifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees to evade responsibilities it would otherwise owe them. Whether employee misclassification is intentional or accidental, a company may have to reimburse workers for wages and benefits they would have had with the correct classification. Such may be the case in an ongoing class action lawsuit against the California port firm XPO Logistics Inc.
What Did XPO Logistics Inc. Allegedly Do Wrong?
XPO Logistics Inc. operates in 32 different countries. In 2017, the company grossed $15.4 billion in revenue. XPO currently operates out of ports in both Los Angeles and Long Beach – the largest port complex in the country – using hundreds of workers to drive the trucks. On February 26, 2018, more than 160 truck drivers filed a class action lawsuit with the Los Angeles Superior Court against XPO Logistics Inc. for improperly classifying drivers as independent contractors.
The claim alleges that XPO deliberately deprived workers of meal and rest breaks, minimum wage requirements, itemized wage statements, and other fundamental employee protections under California law. The claim also states that XPO purposefully withheld jobs or delayed dispatches to leave truckers waiting at loading docks for work – sometimes for hours. The truckers claim that XPO Logistics has been intentionally misclassifying workers for years to deprive drivers of basic employee rights.
This isn’t the first time that XPO Logistics Inc. has been a defendant in an employment lawsuit. The company has faced other class actions against it in the past, along with penalties for breaking regulations. Yet, as one of the truck driver’s lawyers states, XPO continues to “flout California labor laws” and misclassify workers. XPO’s defense alleges that its workers wish to maintain their independence as contractors, and that the company therefore did nothing wrong in classifying them as such. The class action seeks to prove XPO’s unlawful conduct and recover damages for wronged workers. The damages, one lawyer estimates, could be in the millions.
The Problem With Misclassifying Employees
Since 2011, port truck drivers in California received more than $46 million in class action settlements and judgments for employee misclassification claims. Truck drivers often end up in these types of legal actions since the industry deals with both independently contracted and employed drivers. It is common for companies to utilize independent contractors to drive trucks, but they must do so within the confines of the law. If the truckers should instead qualify as employees, misclassification as contractors is a crime.
The correct classification can make an enormous difference in the wages, hours, and benefits of the worker. An independent contractor is technically self-employed and therefore is not eligible for many of the protections under California labor laws. Minimum wage, paid leave, medical leave, overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, tax breaks, and many other benefits will apply to an employee but not to an independent contractor. In the trucking industry, employees also will not have to pay for fuel and truck repairs – two responsibilities independent contractors have. When a port firm misclassifies its workers as contractors, it knowingly evades the responsibilities of offering workers at least the minimum benefits.
If you worked at the LA or Long Beach port as an independent contractor for XPO Logistics Inc. since April 2016, you could be eligible to join the current class action. Should the lawsuit succeed, the California courts may order the port firm to repay business expenses, missed wages damages, statutory penalties, and other compensation. Truckers involved in the lawsuit could receive a portion of the total award, which seeks more than $1 million but might amount to much more. To find out if you can join the complaint, talk to our California truck accident attorneys.