The California Labor Commissioner’s Office is accepting applications for an amnesty program that will allow carriers to reclassify drivers as employees and avoid liability for misclassifying them as independent contractors.
The Motor Carrier Employer Amnesty Program allows port drayage companies to enter into a settlement agreement with the Labor Commissioner and Employment Development Department, where the carrier agrees to pay all wages and benefits owed to drivers misclassified as independent contractors, pay all taxes owed to the state, and classify drivers as employees. The program ends Dec. 31, 2016.
"The sheer number of claims filed and wages awarded to misclassified port truck drivers over the last several years demonstrates a significant problem in the industry," said Julie A. Su, labor commissioner. "This amnesty program provides an opportunity for motor carriers to remedy these problems and correct past abuses."
Since 2011 there have been nearly 800 wage claims with the Labor Commissioner’s Office for misclassification resulting in $35 million awarded to misclassified port truck drivers in 302 cases. In addition to legal cases, California’s ports and trucking companies have been affected by union-organized driver strikes related to the issue.
The drivers at the heart of the issue are often classified as independent contractors rather than company employees. Groups such as the Teamsters union allege that companies are using the classification to avoid giving drivers the full benefits of a company employee.
Recently, the National Labor Relations board filed a complaint against port trucking company Intermodal Bridge Transport based on charges by the Teamsters Union that the company was misclassifying its drivers. Unless the two sides agree on a settlement, the complaint could lead to the case being presented before an administrative law judge.
"Worker misclassification is a form of wage theft as it denies workers all the rights and benefits of employee status,” said Su.
Eligible motor carriers can apply for this voluntary program by filling out the Motor Carrier Employer Amnesty Program (AB 621) application and mailing it to Labor Commissioner's Legal Section, 300 Oceangate, #850, Long Beach, CA 90802. The application may also be emailed to AB621@dir.ca.gov.