A trial is scheduled for April 25 to decide damages owed to truck drivers after a federal arbitrator found that motor carrier Central Refrigerated Service Inc. misclassified drivers as independent contractors.
All aspects of the truck drivers’ workdays were fully controlled by Central Refrigerated based on the equipment leasing and contractor agreements, which categorizes them as employees rather than contractors, federal arbitrator Patrick Irvine ruled in October 2016.
Irvine also found that the drivers should have been covered by federal minimum-wage laws and paid for every hour they worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
There are approximately 1,300 drivers as part of the collective arbitration, and 350 truck drivers with individual arbitration claims, plaintiffs’ attorney Dan Getman told Trucks.com.
Central Refrigerated, which specializes in temperature-controlled freight transportation, was acquired by corporate parent Swift Transportation in 2013. Jerry Moyes, the chief executive and controlling stockholder of Swift, was the principal owner of Central Refrigerated.
Central Refrigerated did not respond to a Trucks.com request for comment about the case.
“[Central Refrigerated] controls the manner in which the work is performed. Central Refrigerated assigns jobs and determines how much drivers will be paid for the jobs. The economic reality of the leases with [Central] Leasing effectively control how much drivers have to work because of the expenses imposed on the drivers by the leases,” Irvine wrote in his opinion.
The case has dragged on since June 2012 when truck drivers filed a collective and class-action lawsuit against Central Refrigerated. They alleged in their lawsuit that the Utah-based motor carrier controlled every aspect of their jobs. They also claimed that they are really employee drivers – not independent contractors, which the company outlined in their contracts.
Truckers for Swift Transportation Co. have been fighting a similar battle over driver misclassification.
A federal judge in that case found the drivers to be employees of the motor carrier. However, Swift has appealed the ruling and has asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the January decision.