After over 10 years of litigation, a settlement has finally been proposed in a case alleging that FedEx misclassified more than 2,300 California truck drivers who worked for the company between 2000 and 2007. The drivers’ complaint alleged that they were classified as independent contractors, rather than employees; the latter would afford the drivers certain protections such as overtime pay, reimbursement for certain business expenses, and meal and rest periods.
The settlement follows a 2014 order from the Ninth Circuit overturning a lower court’s denial of the plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment on the question of whether they were improperly classified as independent contractors. Alexander v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., 765 F.3d 981 (9th Cir. 2014) (available here) (previously covered by the ILJ here). In Alexander, the Ninth Circuit evaluated a number of different factors under California’s right-to-control test, which courts use to determine whether a company has the right to control the manner and means of its employees’ work. Id. at 988. The Alexander court found that FedEx mandated workers’ clothing “from their hats down to their shoes and socks,” and also required drivers to adhere to a specific work schedule, both of which exemplify a company’s control over the manner and means of the work performed. Id. at 990. As such, the Ninth Circuit determined that “FedEx [had] a broad right to control the manner in which its drivers perform their work,” and that the FedEx truck drivers were employees as a matter of law. Id. at 997.
The proposed settlement will require approval of a California federal judge. If approval is granted, it will finally resolve the claims of the 2,300 FedEx truck drivers misclassified as independent contractors.
Bevin Allen Pike, Senior Counsel
CAPSTONE LAW APC