Truck drivers at the largest port complex in the country filed a potential class action lawsuit against XPO Logistics Cartage in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday.
Heart of the Issue
At the heart of the issue is the employment classification of the company’s truck drivers. Currently the drivers are classified as independent contractors while the drivers are fighting to be categorized as employee drivers, which would mean an increase in pay and benefits.
The truckers at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach allege that XPO used tactics such as withholding jobs or triggering calculated dispatch delays that leave truckers waiting for hours at loading docks for work, thus impacting their daily clocks and how much they get paid.
The drivers claim they currently aren’t even making living wages and don’t make enough money to pay for repairs on vehicles they don’t even own.
XPO Logistics Cartage is a division of XPO Logistics. XPO, based in Greenwich, Conn., is a multinational logistics company that operates 1,455 locations in 32 countries and had $15.4 billion in revenue last year. An XPO Logistics spokeswoman said the company has not yet reviewed the filing.
The drivers allege they weren’t provided accurate itemized wage statements, weren’t paid minimum wage and the company failed to pay them for missed meal and rest breaks under California law.
The suit also alleges that in certain cases XPO Logistics failed to pay the minimum wage, failed to pay wages for missed meal and rest periods, and failed to reimburse business expenses as required, among other things.
Trucking firm XPO Logistics Inc. improperly classified drivers as independent contractors, depriving them of wages and benefits, a new lawsuit says https://t.co/ltMxga4vaF
— KTLA (@KTLA) February 27, 2018
One lawyer representing the truck drivers, Julie Gutman Dickinson, told reporters on a conference call that XPO Logistics had faced litigation before, including class-action suits, along with regulatory action but “continues to misclassify workers and flout California labor laws, leading to the class-action lawsuit that we filed today.”
The suit seeks to stop XPO Logistics’ alleged “unlawful conduct” and recover unpaid wages and other compensation, statutory penalties and damages. The total dollar amount sought has yet to be determined but would likely be “in the millions” of dollars, Gutman Dickinson said.
Long Time Coming
Since 2011, the California labor commissioner’s office has awarded port truck drivers more than $46 million in cases in which they contended they were wrongly classified as contractors.
In December, the Los Angeles City Council approved a plan to investigate claims of wage theft by port truck companies and to look into whether the city could deny port access to companies in violation of labor laws.
In May 2017, a federal judge upheld a 2015 decision issued by the Long Beach office of the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement that ordered XPO Cartage, formerly Pacer Cartage, to pay five drivers nearly $1 million because of unlawful deductions and reimbursable expenses. The case is pending in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The California labor commissioner ruled that XPO Cartage must pay four drayage truck drivers $855,000 for improperly classifying them as independent contractors when they should have been considered employees in April 2017.
Putting a Human Face on Things
The Los Angeles Times put together a quick video on the heart of the matter and put a personal spin on what some drivers are facing in Southern California.
More than 30 percent of all container cargo in the U.S. goes through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. More than 180,000 jobs are tied to the port complex.