Misclassification of employees rampant in gig economy companies

Many so-called "gig economy companies" operate in West Virginia and all across the country. Some businesses, such as Uber or Lyft, offer ride-sharing services to customers. Companies like Grubhub or DoorDash deliver food from various restaurants to people's homes or offices. While most of the gig employees work as independent contractors, there is a growing concern that the companies who hire them are guilty of misclassification.

By classifying employees as independent contractors, companies can avoid paying health care benefits and unemployment for them. The workers are also unable to unionize or participate in collective bargaining. Businesses also are not required to follow the guidelines for mandatory breaks or harassment for on-demand employees.

Unpaid work time: Dick's to pay $2.9 million to workers

Many West Virginia employees and others around the nation have activities they must perform before or after their specified work shifts. For example, employees have to walk to and from their cars to get to their workplaces. This type of activity would not be considered as part of their principal work activities and would, therefore, not be compensated according to Department of Labor laws. However, some companies try to add other preliminary or postliminary activities to their staff members. One corporation in another state recently settled a lawsuit for unpaid work time involving activities before their employees' designated work times.

Dick's Sporting Goods, a major retail company, conducted searches of its employees and their bags following their shifts. According to a lawsuit, the company failed to pay employees for this time between Mar. 2011 and Jan. 2015. The lawsuit involved a class of over 10,500 current and former Dick's employees. The lawsuit was settled for $2.9 million, and each employee should receive roughly $155 in the settlement.

Labor laws and what they say about your right to fair pay

As an employee in West Virginia, you believe that you have the right to fair pay. This means that you deserve rightful pay for the hours you worked, including overtime. Fortunately, there are federal laws in place that agree that you have these rights, such as the Federal Labor Standards Act. Thanks to the FLSA, you deserve fair pay and treatment from your employer. 

Under the FLSA, certain types of employees have the guarantee of minimum wage and overtime pay. If you are an hourly employee, it may be in your interests to learn about the protections provided to you and how you can fight for your rights in the event your employer is not paying you fairly. Wage and hour disputes are complex, but you do not have to address these issues on your own.

Swift settles misclassification lawsuit with truck drivers

There are many truck drivers in West Virginia and all across the country who are considered to be independent contractors at their places of employment. Often, companies use contractors as part of their workforces in addition to their full-time employees. While this arrangement can be beneficial to all parties involved, it can also be abused. Managers may begin treating their contractors just as they do their "regular" employees and violate labor laws. Recently, a major transportation company settled a lawsuit that stemmed from misclassification of its truck drivers as independent contractors.

Almost 20,000 truck drivers claimed in a class action lawsuit that Swift Transportation had misclassified them as contractors from 1999 to 2017. The claim, filed in 2009, stated that since the drivers were classified as independent contractors, they were not paid the legally required minimum wage. Therefore, according to the lawsuit, the company was violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. Officials at Swift tried to seek arbitration through the Federal Arbitration Act and through the arbitration laws of its state.

Man sues NFL team after a slip-and-fall accident

Going to a National Football League game may be dream for many West Virginia residents and others around the country. Having an opportunity to watch professional players or support a favorite team would make it a highly anticipated experience. But what if that experience was marred by an accident? A Bengals season ticket holder recently sued the organization after a slip-and-fall incident at the team's stadium.

In Oct. 2018, the Bengals were playing a home game against the Steelers. A 20-year season ticket holder was in attendance at the game. While heading into the rest room, he slipped and fell near one of the stalls. The man fell backwards and hurt his shoulder as a result of the fall.

Flowers Food settles misclassification lawsuit for $9 million

Many companies in West Virginia and across the nation utilize independent contractors in addition to their regular workforce of employees. However, businesses often stumble when employing contractors, since the practice can often result in misclassification of workers. A major manufacturer of baked goods headquartered in another state recently settled a lawsuit that alleged the company had misclassified its distributors as contractors.

Flowers Foods settled the Fair Labor Standards Act misclassification lawsuit for $9 million. The lawsuit stated that the distributors had been classified as independent contractors, and all their dealings with Flowers and its customers were controlled by the company. Since the relationship reflected actual employment by Flowers, the distributors argued that they should have received overtime pay for the extra hours they worked over their regular shifts. In addition to the monetary settlement, the distributors' terms of employment now includes an arbitration agreement.

Shouldn’t I get paid for that?

If you clock in and out when you go to work, the hours you should get paid for may seem very clear. But, even then, it’s all too easy to get into the habit of doing work-related tasks unpaid.

Here are a few examples of work-related tasks you should and should NOT get paid to do.

Distraction still causing motor vehicle accidents in West Virgini

Distracted driving is a serious concern both in West Virginia and across the United States. With more people having access to cell phones and infotainment systems in vehicles than ever before, the number of distraction-related motor vehicle accidents continues to rise. Texting and driving is one of the most common and most dangerous forms of distracted driving.

Out of concern over the number of people using their phones behind the wheel, authorities and other groups have worked hard to communicate the dangers associated with texting and driving. While most people are aware that it is risky, they continue to do so. In fact, the number of people who admit to texting and driving has increased. 

Motor vehicle accidents: Man dead following hit-and-run crash

Many tractor-trailer rigs pass through West Virginia on its numerous miles of highways. The location of the state promotes heavy commercial transportation as truckers deliver their wares in all directions. Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents involving cars and these semis can result in serious injuries or deaths. However, a recent fatality occurred involving a parked tractor-trailer rig and a hit-and-run driver in Jefferson County.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office reported that a man from another state was on the side of a road near Halltown, inspecting his tractor-trailer. According to witness accounts, a black sport utility vehicle struck the man, then drove away after stopping briefly. The driver of the tractor-trailer was pronounced dead after being transported to a nearby hospital.

Motor vehicle accidents and the consequences of drunk driving

Drunk driving is reckless and dangerous, and the consequences can often be deadly. A recent crash in Odd, West Virginia, that left one person dead illustrates the dangers of this type of negligent behavior and how it increases the chance of motor vehicle accidents. Though this collision involved just one car, the driver was allegedly drunk and had three passengers in the vehicle with him.

Reports of the accident indicate that the driver was speeding, when he apparently lost control of the vehicle and left the road. The vehicle he was driving struck a tree. The driver did not suffer injuries in the accident, but a few of his passengers did. One of the people in the vehicle died, and the other two suffered serious injuries in the collision.

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