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California Court Rules Port Truck Drivers Are Employees, Not Contractors


Long Beach Port DriversLONG BEACH, Calif., March 1, 2013 – California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su won a California Superior Court trial yesterday when the court ruled that Port of Long Beach truck drivers working for Seacon Logix, Inc. were employees and not independent contractors.

“The Labor Commissioner is committed to attacking misclassification wherever it occurs in California,” said Christine Baker , director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). The California Labor Commissioner’s office, also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), is a division of DIR.

“In this case, drivers had signed agreements labeling them independent contractors but the Court saw the truth behind the label,” Labor Commissioner Su stated. “The Court found that the company exerted sufficient control over the drivers such that the drivers were employees of the company and thus, enjoy all basic labor law protections.”

The case originated from wage claims filed by four drivers in the Long Beach office of the Labor Commissioner’s office, also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). The drivers claimed unreimbursed business expenses and unlawful deductions, including weekly truck rental fees and liability insurance costs for the Seacon Logix trucks they drove for the Gardena-based shipping and trucking company. Hearings on the claims on Nov. 16, 2011 resulted in a decision requiring Seacon Logix to pay $105,089.15 for violations including unlawful withholding of wages, interest and waiting time penalties. Seacon Logix appealed the hearing decision with the Superior Court.

The appeal was heard in a four-day bench trial from Feb. 25-28 at the California Superior Court in Long Beach, where the drivers were represented by attorneys for the Labor Commissioner. Yesterday’s ruling upheld the Labor Commissioner’s hearing decision and ordered Seacon Logix to pay $107,802, including interest. The drivers will get the full amount of that award.

“This case highlights the critical need for labor law enforcement, particularly where misclassification cheats hardworking men and women like these port truck drivers out of the full pay to which they were entitled,” continued Labor Commissioner Su. “This is wage theft and we will do everything in our power to stop it.”

The California Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (Labor Commissioner’s Office) adjudicates wage claims, investigates discrimination and public works complaints, and enforces state labor law and Industrial Welfare Commission wage orders. Information on the functions of the California Labor Commissioner is available on the DIR website as well as on Facebook and Twitter.


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