Last month, about 60 truck drivers went on strike and picketed a large trucking company called XPO Cartage, Inc. XPO is attempting to cover up its misconduct of misclassifying truck drivers in Southern California as independent contractors. In doing so, they managed to cheat these individuals out of unpaid wages totaling well over $150,000 each. These workers have now been forced into arbitration by XPO’s efforts to keep this case out of the court system.
Unfavorable Working Conditions for Independent Contractors
USA Today conducted a yearlong investigation and discovered that trucking companies have been misclassifying employees as independent contractors for at least a decade. It is especially common for companies working out of the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. These are two of the largest ports in the United States, so these misclassifications allow the companies to save money since they are not required to provide health insurance and benefits. The drivers are not as fortunate under these circumstances. Despite the fact that they often work up to 60 hours a week, they still remain in poverty due to the many fees deducted from their paycheck. These fees, only applicable to independent contractors, include items such as gas, insurance, and “lease” payments on the trucks. According to USA Today, “One company…charged $2 per week for the office toilet paper and other supplies.” In fact, sometimes all of these fees are so high that the drivers end up owing the employers money.
XPO Attempts to Block Any Potential Legal Actions
In the past, similar misclassification cases brought before California’s Labor Commissioner have consistently been in favor of the workers. Unfortunately these rulings only apply if they are not forced into arbitration. Last year, the drivers filed legal actions with California’s Labor Commissioner against XPO, but the company filed a last-minute petition to compel arbitration just before the hearings began. They then attempted to prevent the Labor Commissioner from holding the hearings through an order from the California Superior Court. Luckily the Superior Court has denied XPO’s motion for an injunction and petition to compel arbitration. The Labor Commissioner issued orders awarding each driver compensation in back wages and penalties. However, XPO is now trying to appeal the Superior Court’s judgment and reclaim any awards obtained by the drivers.
We will keep you informed about this case as more information unfolds, but we hope for a victory in favor of the drivers to ensure fair employee classifications and pay in the future. If you or a loved one are a transportation worker and have been mistreated by a trucking company, please contact us at (800) 598-0314.