California port driver’s wage and hour case could be one of many

Frank S. Clowney III

Drivers hauling containers back and forth from the port of San Diego might find a pair of recently filed class action lawsuits of great personal interest. A former port driver is suing two Southern California transport companies over an issue that is important to more truckers than just him.

The driver has filed wage and hour complaints against two companies that he thinks falsely classified his worker status. He claims that the companies misclassified him as an independent contractor when he should have been considered and treated as a regular employee.

Court documents indicate that each complaint seeks the inclusion, as part of the class, of the present and past port drivers of the companies. The inclusion dates back four years previous to the complaint filings. A spokeswoman for the law firm representing the plaintiff says that the former driver wants to receive the wages and other monetary benefits that a regular employee deserves.

The plaintiff claims that both companies he is suing oversaw all of their drivers’ activities. He alleges the companies controlled scheduling, work processes and points of delivery. The lawsuit contends that because the companies control every aspect of the drivers’ jobs, the drivers should not be classified as independent contractors. As independent contractors, the drivers are ineligible for employee benefits.

Recently, labor groups released a report criticizing port companies in general in regards to this employment law matter. Allegedly, the practice of the misclassification of drivers as contractors is common. The report states companies have misclassified nearly two-thirds of the nation’s port drivers. As a result, critics suspect that many drivers are missing out on the hourly wages and further benefits that the law requires.

If you are in a situation where you believe you’re being exploited by virtue of misclassification, don’t hesitate to protect your best interests. An employment law attorney can evaluate whether an employer is violating your rights and help you collect what you are owed.

Source: Land Line Magazine, “Port driver files class action complaints against two California drayage companies,” Clarissa Hawes, March 3, 2014