California Truckers Allege They Are Misclassified As Independent Contractors Rather Than Employees
Sacramento, CA (Law Firm Newswire) July 1, 2014 - Golden State’s Justice for Port Truck Drivers picketed at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports to protest being classified as independent contractors and not employees.
“I see a large number of cases in my practice that involve misclassified workers and it seems to be a near epidemic. To avoid paying various benefits to employees, a company misclassifies their workers. Whatever the reasons used, it is illegal and denies workers the protection of state and federal laws and results in lower wages and no appreciable benefits,” outlines experienced Sacramento employment lawyer, Deborah Barron. “In California, port truckers account for over 500 complaints relating to wage theft due to misclassification.”
Given the size of the trucking industry, it gives one pause to note that roughly only 10 percent of big rig drivers are considered to be direct employees of a company. Truckers illegally classified as independent contractors are fed up and have taken steps to file lawsuits and complaints with federal and state agencies to force a change in their status. In the Golden State, according to the Department of Industrial Relations, 32 truckers won decisions against 13 trucking firms and were awarded $3.8 million in wages. The trucking companies were awarded penalties for circumventing labor laws.
Rebecca Smith, deputy director for the National Employment Law Project, states that: “The era of misclassification is over …. and the industry should be sitting up and taking notice.”
Barron, who regularly samples the pulse of labor relations and related legal issues in California, keeping tabs on relevant news in the employment industry, notes that protests launched by truckers who are not considered employees are spreading across the U.S. “It’s not a protest about the nature of the work,” says Barron, “It’s about getting fair pay and benefits for a hard day’s work. It’s about a worker’s right to be treated equitably and treated with respect.”
Currently, if a trucker in California is considered to be an independent contractor, they are expected to pay for gas to run their rigs, insurance on their truck and for maintenance. Most truckers take home pay is roughly $400/week. “If you do the math on that, you’ll see that they make an hourly wage below the state minimum, which is $9/hour,” explains Barron. State employment laws exist to protect workers. It’s time to make that happen in the trucking industry.
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