LOS ANGELES — The misclassification of employees as independent contractors continues to be a hot-button issue that the federal government, as well as state and local governments, are trying to address. This is particularly apparent in the context of wage and hour laws. Recently, California enacted two laws that provide more protections to workers who believe they should be treated as employees.
Commercial Drivers in West Coast Ports
The Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach are two of the busiest ports in the United States. Much of the cargo from the ports to warehouses and distribution centers are transported by independent owner-operated commercial drivers who are contracted by transportation companies. Over the last few years, unions have been actively seeking to have these commercial drivers declared to be employees, and therefore, numerous misclassification wage and hour class actions have been filed on their behalf.
Recently, California enacted a new section to its Labor Code which encourages the conversion of owner-operators to employees. The new statute creates the “Motor Carrier Employer Amnesty Program, which will relieve eligible transportation companies that serve any California port of liability for statutory or civil penalties that stem from the misclassification of its truck drivers. This safe harbor will only be available if the company executes a settlement agreement with the California Labor Commissioner where it will agree to classify all of its truck drivers as employees.
The qualifying settlement agreements have a few mandatory provisions. It requires the payment of all wages, benefits and taxes owed to the individuals who are reclassified to employees from the first date of their contractor relationship with the company, up to the maximum statute of limitations. It also requires that all commercial drivers who will work with the company in the future will be presumed to be employees.
Cheerleaders as Employees
Another new provision in the California Labor Code addresses the employment status of cheerleaders used by California based professional sports teams. Under the new provision, any such cheerleader, whether hired directly or indirectly through a staffing firm or other contractor, is deemed to be an employee under the California Labor Code. Professional sports teams are required to ensure that its cheerleaders are classified and paid as employees, not as independent contractors.
Port truck drivers and cheerleaders in California have been afforded additional protections against misclassification by these new provisions in the state’s labor code. You should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you believe your wage rights have been violated. Our top-rated team of wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action. We will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. There are strict time limitations for filing, so it is important that you call our experienced attorneys today.