When employees are misclassified by employers as independent contractors, the misclassified workers can be denied important work benefits, such as overtime compensation, the ability to unionize, and other employee benefits. Over the past few years, several motor carrier companies, including several trucking companies in California, have been accused of misclassifying commercial truck driver employees as independent contractors in order to cut costs and boost profits. As a result, California truck drivers are suffering from lost wages.
In 2016, California legislators enacted the Motor Carrier Employer Amnesty Program, which would allow motor carrier employers to avoid penalty when changing the status of misclassified workers from independent contractor to employee status, and providing those workers with their due compensation for past abuses and lost wages. Surprisingly, many of California's trucking companies have not taken the Motor Carrier Employer Amnesty Program deal which would have allowed these employers to avoid certain liability for the misclassification of truckers.
What This Means for Employees in California
Misclassification of a worker as an independent contractor when he or she should be considered an employee effectively equates to wage theft by employers. When truck drivers are classified as independent contractors, motor carrier employers often try to push expenses off onto the contractor drivers, such as costs associated with parking, truck maintenance, fuel, and vehicle insurance. It is estimated that about 4,000 dollars in wages are lost when truck drivers are mischaracterized as independent contractor workers.
Despite having about a year to sign up for the Amnesty program, few California trucking companies have taken initiative to correct past wrongs committed against workers. With so few carriers signing up for the program, many California truck drivers will be adversely affected in the future. Rather than taking responsibility for the error that was made concerning the employee's status, motor carrier employers are dodging the issue and not compensating affected workers appropriately.
Hundreds of California Truck Drivers Have Filed Wage Claims
To obtain the compensation owed by their employers due to misclassification of their employment status, affected employees must bring a wage claim against their employer. More than 800 California truck drivers have filed wage claims against their employers for employee misclassification in the last five years, and truck drivers are winning on their wage claims -- more than 32 million dollars have been awarded to misclassified truck drivers since 2011. With so many truck drivers filing wage claims against their employers, the problem in the industry is clearly widespread and systemic.
Have You Been Misclassified by Your Employer?
If you are concerned that you have been misclassified as an independent contractor when you should be classified as an employee and have lost wages as a result, you must consult with an experienced employment law attorney. You are not alone, and there are many other truck driving professionals who are in the same situation. We can help. Please feel free to contact one of our experienced California employment lawyers at Hennig Ruiz for a free consultation.