Two truck drivers in Southern California are fed up with not being paid for overtime work. The drivers allege that Harbor Express Inc., has classified the drivers as independent contractors in order to avoid allowing the drivers to take breaks, including lunch break,s and to avoid paying overtime.
According to the LA Times, the drivers filed a lawsuit against the company and are seeking class-action status.
The drivers’ lawyers believe the suit would affect approximately 400 drivers.
The lawsuit claims that Harbor Express purposefully misclassified hundreds of drivers as independent contractors so the carrier could avoid providing benefits to its drivers.
Brothers Jose I. Estrada, 58, and Jose A. Estrada, 48, filed the suit with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, claiming the drivers are direct employees, who drive company-owned trucks.
“It looks like a traditional employment, but they slap the title of independent contractors on them,” Brian Kabateck, one of the lawyers who filed the case told the LA Times.
“If they were truly independent contractors, they would own the truck or lease it,” Kabateck said. They would also “have freedom to come and go and can take on other jobs and assignments. This is just a clever way to do a runaround of labor law.”
Of the 10,000 Los Angeles and Long Beach ports’ registered trucks, only 10% of the drivers driving those trucks are direct employees of the ports.
Contractors aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation if they’re injured, nor are they eligible for unemployment.