• ITVI.USA
    15,536.540
    74.080
    0.5%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.754
    0.002
    0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.490
    -0.180
    -0.9%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,507.170
    69.970
    0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,536.540
    74.080
    0.5%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.754
    0.002
    0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.490
    -0.180
    -0.9%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,507.170
    69.970
    0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
American ShipperShipping

Flex drivers sue Amazon for misclassification

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Seattle, Wash., is the latest in a long list of complaints against transportation and logistics service providers that have allegedly been misclassifying drivers as contractors instead of employees.

   Three delivery drivers have filed a lawsuit against Amazon.com Inc. in federal court in Seattle, Wash. seeking back wages, overtime pay and compensation for fuel, car maintenance and other expenses for alleged violation of federal labor laws.
   The lawsuit is the latest in a long list of complaints against transportation and logistics service providers that have allegedly been misclassifying drivers as contractors instead of employees.
   Amazon has slowly, and somewhat secretively, been building its own logistics network, leading to speculation the e-commerce giant’s offerings could one day rival the likes of providers like FedEx and UPS. The company has remained tight-lipped about such plans, however, saying that it only plans to use its own network to supplement capacity provided by other parcel delivery firms during peak shipping times.
   The drivers bringing the lawsuit against Amazon – Bernadean Rittmann and Freddie Carroll of Las Vegas, Nev., along with Julia Wehmeyer of Plano, Texas – all drove for the company in Seattle under its Amazon Flex program, a mobile application that allows truckers to choose and schedule their own deliveries.
   This could be an issue for the prosecution, however, as recent rulings and guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor suggest the primary determinant in whether a driver should be classified as an employee – and not a contractor – is the amount of control the employer exerts over things like work hours, daily activity and the freedom to make independent decisions regarding their work status.
   But drivers have had some success in similar suits in recent years.
   FedEx Corp. in June agreed to pay $240 million to settle driver misclassification lawsuits covering around 12,000 FedEx Ground drivers in 20 states.
   Drayage drivers from three XPO Logistics Inc. port tucking subsidiaries in January filed a class-action lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court arguing Pacer Cartage Inc., Harbor Rail Transport and PDS Transportation Inc. did not provide minimum wage, proper meal and rest breaks, or reimbursement for legitimate business expenses.
   At question in all of these cases, is whether drivers are truly independent contractors or, as they argue, full-time employees who are by definition entitled to certain requisite wages and benefits.
   According to the complaint, Amazon Flex drivers had a direct contract relationship with their employer and were high supervised, including training from Amazon on how to handle customer issues.
   Drivers must follow “Amazon’s instructions regarding where to make deliveries, in what order, and which route to take,” the suit says, adding that contractors can be fired at any time despite being “fully integrated into Amazon’s business,” making them indistinguishable from other employees.
   Amazon told the Seattle Times in an e-mail statement that with Amazon Flex, “anyone can earn up to $25 per hour by delivering packages when and where they want,” and “feedback from Flex drivers has been very positive – they really enjoy being their own boss.”
   Shannon Liss-Riordan, the Boston-based attorney representing the Amazon drivers in the suit, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal the company’s use of contractor drivers is a “scheme…to try to avoid having to comply with wage laws.”
   “They think that if they use technology that somehow exempts them,” said Liss-Riordan, who has also represented drivers for the crowd-sourced ride sharing apps Lyft and Uber in similar class-action lawsuits.
   “Amazon is yet another company that is saving on labor costs by hiring delivery drivers who perform the work that the company does and not calling them employees,” she added in an interview with the Seattle Times.

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