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Trucking Company Employees Allegedly Misclassified and Bring Class Claims for Overtime

Companies are always looking for a way to cut costs. One of the ways they can do this is by hiring independent contractors, rather than employees. Companies don’t have to pay benefits for independent contractors like they do employees. Independent contractors cover their own health insurance, social security, and taxes.

But labor law has specific qualifications workers need to meet in order to be considered independent contractors. For example, independent contractors get to choose which assignments they take, when they work, where they work, and what they wear to work.

Sterling Express Services Inc. is currently facing a class action wage and hour lawsuit alleging it misclassified its truckers as independent contractors.

The two named plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit, Jose Vasquez and Elmer Montoya, are former employees of the trucking company. They worked as truck drivers, but they claim they did not meet the qualifications for independent contractors. They allegedly did not have the authority to reject assignments from the company dispatchers. According to the complaint, “If the truck drivers rejected an assignment, then dispatchers would retaliate against them.”

Since the truckers were allegedly treated as employees, rather than independent contractors, the lawsuit is seeking compensation for failure to pay overtime and failure to pay wages in a timely manner under California labor law.

The lawsuit also alleges Sterling deducted business expenses from the truckers’ pay, including fuel, registration, parking, and other costs necessary to maintain operation of the trucks. Regardless of the employees’ status, companies are always responsible for covering their own business expenses.

Last year, the Office of the California Labor Commission determined that Vasquez and Montoya had been misclassified as independent contractors by the trucking company. It ordered Sterling to pay $74,000 to Vasquez and $128,000 to Montoya to compensate them for their damages and unpaid wages.

Now the two men are seeking compensation for anyone who hauled freight for Sterling any time in the past four years. Because it’s a California lawsuit, the proposed class would cover any driver who moved cargo for Sterling to and from ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA.

This is why workers of all types usually have contracts. For company employees, a contract lays out specific guidelines and expectations, including the types of duties the employee is expected to perform, and what compensation the company will provide in return.

Independent contractors often have contracts as well, though not always. These contracts are used to define the types of commitments the independent contractor is agreeing to, gives him the right to refuse assignments, and gives him the capacity to accept assignments from other firms. It also gives both parties the right to terminate the contract.

Independent contractors rarely take on just one client and the ability to terminate a relationship with an undesirable contract is one of the perks of being an independent contractor. If truck drivers feared retaliation from their dispatches as a result of refusing an assignment, then the drivers were not working in the position of authority normally granted to independent contractors.The Chicago overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against large retail chains, internet retailers and car dealers such as Petsmart, Officemax, Staples, Smart & Final, Apple, Walgreen’s, CVS, Urban Outfitters, GAP, Abercrombie & Fitch, Limited, Forever 21, PetSmart, Macy’s, Target, JC Penney’s, Lowes, Marshalls, Bed Bath & Beyond, TJ Max, Victoria’s Secret, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Best Buy, Home Depot, Apple, Best Buy, Sears, K Mart, J.C Penney, Walmart, Costco, Amazon,, BMW car dealer, Ford car dealers, GM car dealers, Jeep car dealers, Toyota car dealers, VW car dealers, Mercedes car dealers, Audi car dealers, and other retail chains and internet sellers for misclassifying employees as managers, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, failing to pay for time spent on security checks, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim this practice call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.  We have offices in Chicago and Oak Brook near Joliet, Aurora and Bolingbrook.