FedEx Ground Back in Court
FedEx Ground Back in Court Over Independent Contractor Misclassification
In mid-August, five delivery drivers who worked for FedEx Ground in the State of New York sought certification for a class action lawsuit against their employer on the grounds of misclassification. According to the plaintiffs, FedEx Ground took illegal deductions from their pay by classifying them as independent contractors when they in fact operated as employees. Building on FedEx Ground’s appearance in court last year as part of a similar lawsuit, these drivers seek to end FedEx Ground’s rampant misclassification of workers and to receive the pay to which they are entitled.
Among the allegations in this lawsuit is the claim that FedEx Ground deducted the plaintiffs’ pay for such expenses as FedEx uniforms, lease payments on the drivers’ trucks, and workers’ compensation insurance. Because the plaintiffs were deemed as independent contractors rather than as employees, of course, these deductions were not lawful. In addition, though independent contractors are supposed to be allowed to exercise some freedom over how they conduct their business, the plaintiffs say that FedEx Ground insisted on controlling their day-to-day working conditions so much that the relationship was far closer to that between an employer and an employee.
The plaintiffs therefore seek a judge’s approval to force FedEx to create a new class of employee that fuses the freedoms of independent contractors with the responsibilities of true FedEx Ground employees. This class would encompass every independent contractor for FedEx Ground—roughly some 200 individuals—who drove a truck and assisted in deliveries on a full-time schedule at any point since September of 2009, and these individuals would become retroactively included in the class of employee. The verdict of last year’s lawsuit against FedEx Ground only compensated New York drivers who had begun working for FedEx Ground prior to 2009, and this suit complements its predecessor, restituting later hires for their arduous work.
The plaintiffs initially filed their suit last year, and though FedEx tried unsuccessfully to dismiss the case, Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr. ruled that the drivers had provided enough evidence to support their claim that their treatment was akin to that of employees despite their wages as independent contractors. Geraci decided that the sheer level of micromanaging that FedEx Ground implemented in the plaintiffs’ daily work—the intense supervision, the mandatory meetings, and the requirement to request time off, among many other examples—was not in line with New York common law. Geraci’s ruling further stated that FedEx Ground’s classification was in violation of New York’s Fair Play Act, which labels transporters of commercial goods as employees for their contractors. FedEx’s failed counterargument was that it contracted not the drivers but rather the corporations that the drivers individually constituted, and the deductions were entirely unrelated to the drivers’ classification as independent contractors.
If you feel that you have been misclassified in your work for your employer, contact our team of employment law attorneys for further information. A misclassification, whether accidental or deliberate, can deprive an employee or an independent contractor of wages, benefits, and rightful compensation, and Friedman & Ranzenhofer has experience in recognizing the signs of employer misconduct. We provide free, confidential consultations upon appointment, and if you wish to speak with one of our employee misclassification lawyers about your concerns, reach out to our office and let our experience work for you.
Read the original article on Law 360