- United Van Lines LLC, is sued for allegedly misclassifying a truck driver as an independent contractor after working more than 10 years for the company, reports the Saint Louis Record. Truck driver Sammy Davis filed a class-action lawsuit, claiming the transportation company paid drivers on a percentage of the cargo hauled instead of on the amount customers paid the company.
- Davis also alleges that the company required drivers to pay for fuel, repairs, lease payments and other expenses and paid drivers less than the minimum wage, according to the Record. Davis said he worked 16-hour days, but was denied overtime pay. As a result, he contends that the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Missouri Minimum Wage Law.
- The plaintiff wants a jury trial and seeks compensation for damages, legal fees and other relief the court finds fair and appropriate.
At the core of the case is the driver's classification — a growing issue for many companies that employ truck drivers of any kind. Certain issues at hand include his length of employ and whether or not he depended on the company for his livelihood. These standards have been used to catch employers with misclassification in the past.
According to Supply Chain Dive, drivers have been in short supply for a long time. But the driver shortage worsened with increased regulation, stricter hiring rules and drivers retiring from the vocation. This means the remaining drivers are making longer trips with larger freight. Administratively, it might make more sense for employers to classify drivers as independent contractors, since many act as independent agents, but courts have become increasingly leery of such arrangements.
The gig economy, generally, continues to be a source of frustration for courts and employers. More industries are turning to gig or contract work to make up talent shortages and scale talent needs appropriately without large overhead costs. But the Uber classification debacle is an example of how widespread the practice has become — and how dangerous it is to do it wrong.