In a recent opinion issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Federal Express delivery drivers have been legally classified as employees of FedEx, rather than independent contractors as was argued by the company. Audet & Partners, LLP has handled many wage and hour employment class actions on behalf of thousands of employees and believes that this FedEx ruling will have wide-ranging implications in many industries, including truckers and other types of delivery professionals.
In granting summary judgment in favor of the drivers as to employment status, the Court heavily relied on the “right-to-control” test that often controls the legal classification of employee versus independent contractor.
In the FedEx case, the relationship of the drivers to the company was contractually governed by an Operating Agreement (OA) which, the company argued, provided drivers with a degree of independence and “entrepreneurial opportunities” that favored classification as independent contractors. In rejecting this argument, the Ninth Circuit found the following factors which supported a finding of an employer/employee relationship:
(1) The work performed by the drivers was wholly integrated into the FedEx operation, and the company ensured that the drivers looked like FedEx employees, acted like FedEx employees, and were paid like FedEx employees;
(2) FedEx closely supervised the work of the drivers by employing, among other protocol, specific training and periodic “ride-along” performance evaluations by managers;
(3) The driver positions with FedEx required no prior experience;
(4) The term of the relationship was indefinite, as opposed to typical contract-based work which would be for a specific task, or clearly defined period of time; and
(5) The work performed by the drivers was “essential to FedEx’s core business.”
You can click here to view a copy of the entire Order issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In finding an employee/employee relationship, the Court has extended very valuable employment rights and protections to FedEx drivers including statutorily mandated meal and rest breaks and the right to overtime pay in specific situations.
If you are or have been a Federal Express driver and believe that you are being improperly treated as an independent contractor when you should be properly considered an employee, you are urged to contact an employment class action lawyer at Audet & Partners, LLP for a free, confidential case evaluation. You can get in touch with us either by calling (800) 965-1461, or by completing and submitting our confidential inquiry form on the right side of this page.