Drivers seek $1.1M from carrier over classification as contractors

Seven Los Angeles area truckers paid as independent contractors but allegedly treated as employees have filed state wage theft claims seeking an average of $153,150 per driver.

The Teamster-backed Justice for Port Drivers says California Multimodal made illegal deductions to the truckers’ paychecks and did not reimburse business expenses. The 275-truck carrier also violated state law by not paying meal and rest break premiums, minimum wage for all hours worked and waiting time penalties, the organization stated.

The California-based CMI, whose parent company, Cal Cartage, was purchased by the New Jersey-based NFI Oct. 2, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

These claims filed with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement Oct. 20 are similar to at least 27 others pending with agency against California Cartage. Since 2015, the company has appealed nine DLSE cases after the agency concluded the claimants were employees misclassified as contractors. Seven remain pending in California’s Superior Court after the company settled two.

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Similar issues also promoted two class actions against Cal Cartage’s trucking divisions and two mass actions against its K &R Transportation segment, all in superior court. Mass actions or torts involve a set of plaintiffs treated individually while class action members are treated as one plaintiff instead of individually.

This latest round of SoCal trucker misclassification cases was followed by the introduction of two Teamster-backed Congressional bills, each with eight co-sponsors. The Port Drivers Bill of Rights Act would task the labor and transportation departments with creating a task force to examine how drayage carrier’s leasing practices affect truckers’ pay. The Clean Ports Act, introduced for the fourth time since 2010, would alter federal law to allow ports more drastic measures to reduce truck pollution and congestion than currently allowed.

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