Federal Court finds in favor of FedEx drivers in lawsuit appeal

Frank S. Clowney III

California employees may be interested in the latest legal success of thousands of drivers that could result in compensation for several employment violations. The court found that the drivers had been improperly classified as exempt from employment protections.

On Aug. 27, a three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in a case involving 2,300 FedEx drivers in Oregon and California. This lawsuit, which is one of many throughout the years and across the country, sought to remedy what the plaintiffs argued was a misclassification of the drivers’ employment status. FedEx claims that the 2,300 drivers are independent contractors. This would make them exempt from certain employment protections that include employers paying for job-related costs, such as uniforms and truck maintenance.

The court found that FedEx exerted a certain degree of control over the way that the drivers performed their work, and that control was enough to make the classification as independent contractors inappropriate. In an opinion, one member of the panel admitted that this would have a substantial effect on the delivery company’s business model. FedEx plans to ask for a reexamination of the ruling by the Ninth Circuit. They also note that, over the years and in the face of litigation, they have modified their operating agreement to better fit independent contractor classification.

Understanding complicated employment law issues and making sure that a worker is not misclassified as exempt can be difficult without the guidance of an attorney. The attorney may be able to analyze the worker’s situation and determine if they have been improperly denied certain protections or rights. The attorney may then be able to bring the appropriate administrative and legal actions to recover compensation for the unpaid time.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Reagan Appointee ‘Unravels FedEx’s Business Model’ In Court Ruling“, Dave Jamieson , August 27, 2014