Judge Robert Miller found that the FedEx Ground drivers are independent contractors under Kansas law. While FedEx did offer "suggestions and best practices for performance of assigned tasks," the Court found that FedEx did not require compliance. Therefore, the company did not retain the "right to control" its drivers, a key aspect of the legal test for employment status.
This is the latest news related to FedEx's battle over classification of its truck drivers. Last week, a lawsuit was filed against the company by 31 current and former drivers in U.S. District Court in Boston, according to reports by Reuters. The drivers hope to gain class-action status in the suit, alleging FedEx misclassified them as independent contractors, not employees.
Last month, FedEx Ground had to shell out over $3 million to the Massachusetts attorney general's office, which alleged that FedEx Ground's failure to properly classify drivers had led the company to make lesser payments to the state for payroll taxes, worker's compensation and unemployment assistance.
The recent decision is at odds with a California appellate decision, which held that the FedEx drivers were employees as a matter of law, and many recent decisions of state tax agencies.
Judge Miller also sent 16 cases back to their original courts, declining to rule on the drivers' summary adjudication motions in those cases. Some of those cases were governed by laws that create a presumption of employment status.