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Hourly or by the Load? Truckers Seek Class Action

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Wilmington, CAIn yet another overtime lawsuit, plaintiffs have alleged they were misclassified to avoid being given overtime pay for hours worked. In this case, the plaintiffs allege California overtime laws were violated because the workers - truck drivers - were misclassified as independent contractors.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, was filed against a trucking company and alleges truck drivers were misclassified as independent contractors when they are actually employees of the company. According to the lawsuit, the defendant misclassified the truck drivers to avoid paying them overtime and meal and rest breaks.

Many independent truck drivers are paid by the load, rather than hourly, so regardless of whether a load takes seven hours or nine hours, the independent truck driver would receive the same rate of pay, whereas an employee would receive overtime for the extra hour.

According to Land Line (5/15/13), the truck drivers say they drove company trucks and had no control over their workday, which independent truck drivers would have.

Independent contractors are generally not eligible to receive overtime pay. As with administrative overtime exemptions, however, it is not enough to simply hire someone as an independent contractor and not pay them for overtime. The person must actually have the same rights and responsibilities as an independent contractor. If he or she is treated by the company as an employee, then he or she must also be paid as an employee, including proper breaks and overtime pay.

Misclassification of employees is a common complaint in overtime lawsuits. In addition to being misclassified as independent contractors, some employees are misclassified as administration or management so the company does not have to pay overtime. In such cases, however, the employee’s duties must be in line with the duties an administrator would carry out - including having discretion in the role - or the courts could find the employee has been misclassified and is owed overtime.

In other words, it is the actual duties of the employees and not just their job title that determines whether or not they are eligible for overtime pay. If an employee has an administrative job title but performs the duties of an hourly employee, he or she could be eligible for overtime wages.

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