SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Adine Deford, Cynthia Dunlop, Harry Trott, Xenia von Wedel, Peter Silva

News Feed Item

Court finds that workforce of FedEx Ground drivers are employees, not independent contractors, says Leonard Carder

Could Be Liable for Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Drivers' Operating Expenses and Wages

OAKLAND, Calif., Aug. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that a class of 2,300 individuals working for FedEx Ground was misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees.  As a result, FedEx may owe its workforce of drivers hundreds of millions of dollars for illegally shifting to them the costs of such things as the FedEx branded trucks, FedEx branded uniforms, and FedEx scanners, as well as missed meal and rest period pay, overtime compensation, and penalties.  The case, known as Alexander v. FedEx Ground, covers employees in California from 2000 - 2007. The ruling can be found on the Leonard Carder website at leonardcarder.com.

Judge Fletcher's majority opinion was very clear on the question of whether these workers are employees or independent contractors, stating "We hold that plaintiffs are employees as a matter of law under California's right-to-control test."

The court's decision is the most recent in a series of cases that have methodically proven that FedEx Ground's independent contractor model is built on the legal fiction that its drivers are in business for themselves. The Ninth Circuit decisively rejected that claim.  The court's finding in Alexander that drivers in California are covered by California's workplace protection statutes not only impacts one of FedEx Ground's largest workforces but could influence the outcome in over two dozen cases nationwide in which FedEx Ground drivers are challenging the legality of their independent contractor classification.  Millions of packages are delivered every day across the state under the control, direction, and supervision of FedEx Ground.  In addition, many trucking companies have been operating under a similar model in which they classify their drivers as independent contractors.

"FedEx Ground built its business on the backs of individuals it labelled as independent contractors, promising them the entrepreneurial American Dream," said Leonard Carder Attorney Beth A. Ross who is a national leader on cases covering the exploitation of workers by mischaracterizing them as independent contractors.  "However, as Judge Trott said in his concurring opinion, not all that glitters is gold."

FedEx now requires its so-called contractors in California to hire a secondary workforce of FedEx drivers, who do the same work as the plaintiffs under the same contract.  The Alexander decision calls into question FedEx's strategy of making plaintiffs the middle men between the secondary workforce of drivers and FedEx.

"We have heard of many instances where the secondary drivers are earning such low wages that they have to rely on public assistance to make ends meet," said Ross.

Background on the everyday experience for FedEx Ground drivers includes:

  • FedEx Ground drivers were required to pay out of out of pocket for everything from the FedEx Ground branded trucks they drove (painted with the FedEx Ground logo) to fuel, various forms of insurance, tires, oil changes, maintenance, etc. as well as their uniforms, scanners and even workers compensation coverage.
  • In some cases workers were required to pay the wages of employees who FedEx Ground required them to hire to cover for them if they were sick or needed a vacation, to help out during the Christmas rush, and in some cases to drive other FedEx Ground trucks.
  • After paying these expenses, a typical FedEx driver makes less than employee drivers at FedEx Ground's competitors like UPS, and receives none of the employee benefits, like health care, workers compensation, paid sick leave and vacation, and retirement.
  • In addition, their employment was subject to the whims of FedEx management and FedEx Ground's decisions on staffing and routes left the employee drivers stuck with expensive long-term truck leases on FedEx branded trucks. 

The drivers' attorney Beth Ross added, "Nationally, thousands of FedEx Ground drivers must pay for the privilege of working for FedEx 55 hours a week, 52 weeks a year.  Today, these workers were granted rights and benefits entitled to employees under California law.  To be clear, the Ninth Circuit exposed FedEx Ground's independent contractor model as unlawful."

Among the noteworthy elements to emerge from the litigation, FedEx Ground's practices take advantage of workers and are anti-competitive.  FedEx Ground's so-called "contractors" do the same work as UPS and U.S. Postal Service drivers for substantially less pay and without benefits. This plays out in two distinct ways.   FedEx Ground saves money and harms drivers and the public by avoiding employment taxes and workers' compensation insurance, and complying with all other workplace protections.

Ross added, "This ruling will have seismic impact on this industry and the lives of FedEx Ground drivers in California."

About Leonard Carder

As one of the oldest and most renowned law firms representing labor unions and employees, Leonard Carder's focus is to provide top-flight legal representation to the labor movement and to advocate on behalf of employees through class actions, individual employee rights cases, and law reform litigation.

SOURCE Leonard Carder

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
"We help companies that are using a lot of Software as a Service. We help companies manage and gain visibility into what people are using inside the company and decide to secure them or use standards to lock down or to embrace the adoption of SaaS inside the company," explained Scott Kriz, Co-founder and CEO of Bitium, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
15th Cloud Expo, which took place Nov. 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, expanded the conference content of @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit to include two developer events. IBM held a Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held a Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of Bluemix, its services and functionalit...
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
Some developers believe that monitoring is a function of the operations team. Some operations teams firmly believe that monitoring the systems they maintain is sufficient to run the business successfully. Most of them are wrong. The complexity of today's applications have gone far and beyond the capabilities of "traditional" system-level monitoring tools and approaches and requires much broader knowledge of business and applications as a whole. The goal of DevOps is to connect all aspects of app...
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
When an enterprise builds a hybrid IaaS cloud connecting its data center to one or more public clouds, security is often a major topic along with the other challenges involved. Security is closely intertwined with the networking choices made for the hybrid cloud. Traditional networking approaches for building a hybrid cloud try to kludge together the enterprise infrastructure with the public cloud. Consequently this approach requires risky, deep "surgery" including changes to firewalls, subnets...
Want to enable self-service provisioning of application environments in minutes that mirror production? Can you automatically provide rich data with code-level detail back to the developers when issues occur in production? In his session at DevOps Summit, David Tesar, Microsoft Technical Evangelist on Microsoft Azure and DevOps, will discuss how to accomplish this and more utilizing technologies such as Microsoft Azure, Visual Studio online, and Application Insights in this demo-heavy session.
DevOps is all about agility. However, you don't want to be on a high-speed bus to nowhere. The right DevOps approach controls velocity with a tight feedback loop that not only consists of operational data but also incorporates business context. With a business context in the decision making, the right business priorities are incorporated, which results in a higher value creation. In his session at DevOps Summit, Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, discussed key monitoring techniques...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water,...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happe...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and asse...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!