Misclassifying Truck Drivers as “Distributors” and “Independent Contractors”
Misclassifying Truck Drivers – California
California law requires employers to reimburse their employees for all necessary business expenses they incur to do their job. For truck drivers, such expenses may include the purchase price of their vehicles as well as all the gas and maintenance costs necessary to run the vehicles.
Unfortunately, many companies attempt an end-run around those legal obligations by misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors. This is common in the food industry, where manufacturers often deliver their product to big box stores and grocery outlets under so-called “distributorship” agreements with truck drivers. Even though the amount of control that the manufacturers exercise over the drivers’ work makes the drivers employees in the eyes of the law, the food service companies tell the drivers they are “distributors” or “independent contractors” and force the drivers to bear the cost of business expenses that the manufacturer should be paying.
The same problem has hit drivers in the courier and package delivery industry. A recent court decision in California finding that FedEx Ground drivers were misclassified as independent contractors highlights the practice.
And even when companies might properly classify their drivers as employees, some still fail to pay them overtime wages and reimburse them for expenses as required by California law. For example, some companies pay drivers a weekly or annual salary instead of paying them by the hour or fail to include incentive and productivity bonuses in calculating the regular rate of pay for overtime purposes.
Are You Entitled to Compensation?
If you have delivered product in California for any manufacturer (including but not limited to the any of the following companies) during the past four years, you should consult with an attorney to determine if you are entitled to compensation for unpaid wages and/or unreimbursed business expenses:
- Flower Foods, Inc. (d/b/a Tastykakes, Nature’s Own, Wonder Bread, HomePride, Sunbeam Bread, Country Kitchen, and others)
- Bimbo Bakeries USA (d/b/a Boboli, Entenmann’s, Thomas, Arnold, and others)
- Hillshire Brands (d/b/a Sara Lee, Jimmy Dean, and others)
- McKee Foods (d/b/a Little Debbie)
- Sunbelt Bakery
- General Mills
- Mondelez International, Inc.
- Kind LLC
- Post Foods
- ConAgra Foods
- Hostess Brands
- Quaker Oats Company
- Campbell Soup Company
- Ocean Spray
- JM Smucker’s Co.
- Nestle USA
- Hormel Foods
- Live Better Brands
- Crystal Geyser
- Organic Valley
- Dr. Pepper/7Up
Contact the Lawyers at Rukin Hyland & Riggin LLP
For more information to schedule a consultation, contact one of our attorneys today at (415) 421-1800.