Photo: Port of Long Beach

Photo: Port of Long Beach

A federal district court judge has issued a judgment in favor of five port and rail truck drivers against XPO Cartage in a driver misclassification lawsuit, awarding the drivers $958,660 in reimbursement plus attorney's fees and costs.

The California Labor Commission had previously issued awards to the five drivers following hearings that found they had been misclassified as independent contractors. XPO Cartage appealed those five decisions in California Superior Court and the case was moved to Federal court. Attorneys for the Labor Commission defended the decisions on behalf of the drivers.

After a four-day bench trial and post-trial briefing, Judge William Keller of  the U.S. Central District Court of California ruled the cases were not preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 and that all five drivers were entitled to reimbursement for expenses and deductions owed to them as full employees of XPO Cartage.

The driver misclassification issue is driven by drivers serving the ports who are classified as independent contractors but due to restrictions explicitly or implicitly enforced on them, are unable to realistically work for another company and do not own their own equipment. Because they are not technically employees of the companies they work for, in some cases drivers are not able to access basic benefits that regular employees are legally entitled to.

"The United States District Court's decision in this case vindicates the rights of five employees who have sought for years to recoup the deductions unlawfully withheld from their wages due to being misclassified as independent contractors," said California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su. "My office is dedicated to ensuring workers are paid what they are due under the law and ensuring workers are properly classified."

The ruling against XPO Cartage is just the latest in a long string of driver misclassification lawsuits affecting port drivers. These suits have cost carriers millions of dollars and in some cases have contributed to trucking companies going out of business.

As of the time of publishing, HDT is awaiting comment from XPO and the story will be updated with any new information we receive.