(“Independent contractors” lose employment rights)

EDUARDO Garcia worked 15-hour days as a port truck driver for Tradelink Transport. Even after working 15 hours, his boss would wave him back to work. If he said no, he would not be given work the next day. So he went back to work.

Jovanni Castillo worked 20 hours per day, six days a week driving for Imperial CFS. If he did not drive 20 hours a day his company fined him $200.

Ho Lee had been paying $1,600 a month for two years for a truck in a lease-to-own scheme. When he fell sick and missed a week of work, the company fired him, took his truck and he lost everything he had paid on it.

The above are some of the workers detailed in USA Today Network’s investigative report into the trucking industry. The report highlighted the industry-wide but unlawful practice of classifying drivers as “independent contractors.” USA Today Network’s report found that:

Employers charged drivers with hundreds of dollars a month for insurance and diesel fuel.

Drivers are forced to falsify work logs that track hours or their companies would not pay them.

Many drivers thought they were paying into their truck like a mortgage. Instead, when they lost their job, they also lost their truck, along with everything they paid toward it.

Serious injustice could result when workers are misclassified as independent contractors (IC). Such workers are deprived of the protections afforded to employees, such as the right to be paid for each and every hour worked, and the right to be paid for overtime, or missed breaks. They are also deprived of benefits such as health insurance, pension, and workers’ compensation protection. They do not have the usual recourse against wrongful termination. Worse, companies pass on the costs of doing business to them by deducting expenses from their pay.

True independent contractor status is defined by law. The most important factor to consider whether a worker is an employee or an IC is the employer’s right to control the worker in performing the job.  If the employer dictates the type of tasks to accomplish and how to accomplish them, then the worker is likely an employee.

Our law firm has helped hundreds of misclassified workers recover back wages owed to them by companies. More importantly, through litigation, we helped them be correctly classified as employees.

Evaluating whether a worker is correctly classified as an IC may become highly technical. Workers should not hesitate to consult with experienced employment attorneys to determine if they are really employees entitled to greater rights and protections under the law.

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The Law Offices of C. Joe Sayas, Jr. welcomes inquiries about this topic. All inquiries are confidential and at no-cost. You can contact the office at (818) 291-0088 or visit www.joesayaslaw.com or our Facebook page Joe Sayas Law. [C. Joe Sayas, Jr., Esq. is an experienced trial attorney who has successfully recovered wages and other monetary damages for thousands of employees and consumers. He was named Top Labor & Employment Attorney in California by the Daily Journal, consistently selected as Super Lawyer by the Los Angeles Magazine, and is the recipient of PABA’s Community Champion Award for 2016.]

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