FedEx Drivers Are Employees Not Contractors, Court Rules

August 27, 2014

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The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled two classes of individuals working for FedEx Ground in California and Oregon were misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees.

The decision by a three-judge panel in Portland reversed an earlier decision. It allows the groups to move forward with their litigation and pursue claims under federal and state laws.

The ruling stems from lawsuits originally filed in California involving about 2,300 full-time delivery drivers between 2000 and 2007, and two suits filed in Oregon involving more than 360 people who were full-time delivery drivers between 1999 and 2009.

FedEx may owe its workforce of drivers millions of dollars for shifting to these drivers 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.

FedEx said it would appeal the decision.

"We fundamentally disagree with these rulings, which run counter to more than 100 state and federal findings, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, upholding our contractual relationships with thousands of independent businesses," FedEx Ground Senior Vice President and General Counsel Cary Blancett said in a statement.

The court’s finding in this latest ruling that drivers in California are covered by California’s workplace protection statutes not only impacts one of FedEx Ground’s largest workforces, but also could influence the outcome in over two dozen cases nationwide in which FedEx Ground drivers are challenging the legality of their independent contractor classification, according a release from the law firm Leonard Carder, which represented the California plaintiffs.

“FedEx Ground built its business on the backs of individuals it labeled as independent contractors, promising them the entrepreneurial American dream,” said Leonard Carder Attorney Beth A. Ross.

According to the law firm, FedEx now requires its independent contractors in California to hire a secondary workforce of FedEx drivers, who do the same work as the plaintiffs under the same contract. The 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.


  1. 1. Big Yellower [ August 28, 2014 @ 02:59PM ]

    I looked into contract work with Fedex Ground. Their definition of independent contractor varies from what the main stream transportation industry would call it.. A truely real independent contractor is responsible for all vehicle pro-rating if it applies, HWT-2290, has own athority, IFTA, federal taxes, own log books (ELD)etc.
    All fedex would have to provide is freight to haul, paycheck, fuel.. The so called "independent contractors" are more of a glorified company Driver with no say at all..

    The industry definition :
    An. Independent contractor is :
    An independent carrier with own authority, pays own taxes, has own pro-rate accounts with base states, has own IFTA, pre-pass, pays HWT-2290, SSR, has own safety program and drugs and alchol programs, ELD.
    Tend to work as an outside carrier.
    Typically can be power only work .

    Fedex definition:
    Our way or the highway ..
    They control everything .

  2. 2. juan robledo [ September 05, 2014 @ 10:38AM ]

    Wish the best to all these people who got screwed over by FedEx, I bet the big wigs got their bonuses, and didn't shed a tear for those they took advantage of, I worked briefly for FedEx as a grounds delivery driver with a 10 dollar no overtime for 4 weeks at which time I decided it wasn't worth it, I bought my owe truck and trailer stay local hauling for various companies needing my equipment to haul road construction materials, earn what I worked and at the end of the week, I got what I have coming no more no less, like I said earlier good luck to those involved in these lawsuit, money is important but your sanity, health, family is worth more then the likes of Fedex

  3. 3. Richard [ September 10, 2014 @ 07:26AM ]

    I agree with the other comments. Hope FedEx and all the others carries taking advantage of Owner Operators get what they deserve...

  4. 4. Walter [ September 21, 2014 @ 06:05PM ]

    I was a FedEx Ground/Home Delivery contractor from 2001-2010 in NC. Our lawsuit is still pending in Indiana with Judge Roy Miller presiding over a number of states. I for one am Expecting Full compensation for the long hours, overload of packages, increased area, and overall control of the owner-operators. Because of those reasons, I chose to sell my route in 2010 cause there was NO quality of life during your 2 days off! FedEx, it's time to Pay Up!!!!!

  5. 5. jim [ October 13, 2014 @ 08:50AM ]

    Jst read your comment on the lawsuit, walter. Its exactly how i feel up here in Ny state. Joined in 2001. Still single route driver. They are pushing us out by the way, going to multple route owners. Three contractors jst about own the terminal. There are only 5 singles left. Please contact me through email with some pointers. Frustated and tired in NY state

  6. 6. Rick Mayfield [ June 26, 2015 @ 12:57AM ]

    I also was a Fed Ex Ground contractor here in Phoenix Arizona from 2006-2008. The summers are brutal here even with A/C in the trucks only time you have time to enjoy it is when your leaving the terminal and returning to the terminal because the day is non-stop from start of first delivery to your last pick up at the end of your day with no lunch breaks. We had to leave when they said we could and they send out their marketing managers to set up new accounts with out conforming us and make times for us to pick up in the window's they set up with the customer adding to our long day so they can make more dollars to our cents for the time and work we put in for that new stop. I sold my route do to hours I worked because I lost my kids in a divorce because the long hours I put in and was away from my kids. We broke our backs for these people and lost out on lots from uniforms that promotes their business not ours and we made them look good in what we did for them it's time for them to pay up every single person who sacrificed for them. I'm trying to get Arizona on board with this.

  7. 7. Oscar Zuniga [ November 28, 2017 @ 02:18PM ]

    Contractor does not pay for line haul drivers no rasies they deduct from the bonuses


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