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Federal Court Upholds Employee Classification Rulings

In yet another statement by the courts that carriers need to be extremely diligent in classifying truck driver employees, a federal appeals court ruled last week in favor of the more than 500 FedEx Ground driver plaintiffs who claim they were wrongly classified as independent contractors, and instead should have been classified as employees of the company.

In the five-year-old class action case, The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court that drivers should have been classified as employees, reports CCJ magazine.

The case is the latest in a string of  rulings against trucking companies that the courts say misclassified drivers as contractors rather than employees.

Like in almost all of these cases, the amount of day-to-day control the company exhibited over its contractors and the company branding and equipment used by the drivers was a key factor in the court’s decision.

FedEx Ground says it disagrees with the court’s ruling and is exploring options for its next move in the case. FedEx in a statement says the Seventh Circuit decision applies only to drivers who worked in Kansas from 1998 to 2007. And, as the company has said before about similar rulings in different states, the independent contractor model in question in the case is no longer in use.

“More than 100 state and federal rulings have affirmed that FedEx Ground contracted service providers are properly classified as a matter of law,” FedEx Ground said in a statement. “We remain committed to protecting our way of doing business and the rights of those businesses to continue operating.”

FedEx Ground last month announced it had reached a $228 million agreement with truck operators who brought a similar suit in California to settle that case.

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