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.
Arguments from both sides lasted nearly 10 years, trying to determine whether arbitration could even take place with the truck drivers. Eventually, a decision was reached by the U.S. Supreme Court, ruling that the Federal Arbitration Act did not apply to transportation workers. Swift reached a settlement in the lawsuit to pay the truck drivers $100 million. The payments will be made to the drivers later this year, after the settlement has been approved.
Failing to classify employees properly and subsequently not paying them what they are due is illegal. If workers have failed to receive the wages and benefits to which they are entitled because of job misclassification, they may wish to take action against their employer. A West Virginia attorney familiar with wage and hour laws can help clients throughout every phase of the litigation process.