Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.
Feb
2015
4

Judge Orders Pacer Cartage to Pay 7 Misclassified Truckers $2M; Teamsters Were Key Supporters

This incident is not isolated. In the above screengrab, Seattle drivers march on Pacer offices.

This incident is not isolated. In the above screengrab, Seattle drivers march on Pacer offices.


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After a two-year legal battle, a California Superior Court judge has ruled that seven Port of Los Angeles truckers are in fact employees, not independent contractors, and are owed more than $2 million in damages.  The affected drivers were part of five strikes against their companies. 

The legal victory is a major win for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters who, along with other labor activists, have supported the misclassified employees throughout their actions.  

Judge Jay M. Bloom determined that Pacer Cartage should have given the independent drivers the same benefits and protections as employees; such as health care, overtime pay, and sick leave.  Bloom decided that the workers were entitled to reimbursement for specific costs they accrued during their employment. This includes truck leases, insurance, vehicle maintenance, fuel, and other out-of-pocket expenses.   Each driver will receive between $85,632 and $387,936.

At a press conference held Thursday, the drivers’ attorney Alvin Gomez said:

“This case sets the stage for all the other cases that are pending.  Now, every truck company is put on notice that if they have a similar scheme in place, (they) are in willing violation of California law.”

The victory provides momentum for other truck drivers currently awaiting their court dates with similar claims.  Alvin Gomez said that the ruling “had the potential to forever reshape the United States trucking industry.”  He added, “This is a tremendous victory in the fight against misclassification.”

Equally disheartening was the revelation that “complex” leasing agreements were available only in English despite the involved drivers speaking very little of the language.  Lawyers said that those agreements closely resembled standard employer-employee contracts, not independent contractor deals.  The truckers had little control over their vehicles, could park only in certain spaces, could not drive their trucks for other companies, and were punished if they received moving violations.  

Judge Bloom provided the following evidence that the workers were in fact employees of Pacer Cartage. They:

• Had to file a job application.
• Had identification cards with the Pacer logo.
• Could not bill their customers, or set prices or rates.
• Had to complete log books and other forms of bookkeeping.
• Were required to follow rules laid down by Pacer.

As Bloom wrote in his decision, “From the evidence, it appears that Pacer had the control.”

The parent company of Pacer Cartage, XPO Logistics, Inc., has indicated that they plan to appeal the decision.

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