On Monday, roughly 120 truck drivers in Long Beach and Los Angeles went on strike in dispute of illegal worker misclassification. Worker misclassification refers to a situation where an employer classifies an employee as an independent contractor in order to deny them important benefits such as overtime, minimum wage, unemployment insurance and to avoid workers’ compensation premiums.
Another advantage for trucking companies in classifying a worker as an independent contractor rather than an employee is that they are able to deduct some expenses from their paychecks, such as the cost of the truck, fuel, and maintenance costs. Such deductions are illegal with respect to employee’s paychecks. More recently, however, the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement has begun to question the practice of classifying truckers as independent contractors, especially in cases whether employers have significant control of their truckers.
Workers who are improperly classified as independent contractors and are not receiving minimum wages, overtime pay or pay for their meals are able to file a claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. It can help to work with a trained advocate on such cases to ensure one takes advantage of one’s rights.
Even in cases where a worker has been properly classified as an employee, employers don’t always cooperate with workers’ compensation claims. In some cases, employers retaliate against an employee who attempts to exercise his or her rights. This is illegal, and workers who face this situation should consult an experienced attorney to help hold their employer accountable.
Source: Msnbc.com, “Port truckers’ strike sends ripples through labor world,” Ned Resnikoff, July 9, 2014.United States Department of Labor, Employee Misclassification as Independent Contractors,” Accessed July 11, 2014.