Many companies have been faced with major lawsuits by former and current employees over wage violations. These workers say they have been deprived of their true employee status– blatantly and systematically misclassified as an independent contractor. An independent contractor is ineligible for overtime pay and federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
This has prevented workers from eligibility in receiving overtime pay, workers comp benefits, and mileage reimbursements. All of which puts food on the table for their families, and keeps them secure in their day-to-day existence.
Delivery companies breaking the law
It doesn’t matter how large or small a delivery company is. If they are misclassifying you as an independent contractor, you are entitled to recover your lost wages and overtime pay.
Major companies have been in hot water over this behavior. In 2014, a California court of appeals ruled that FedEx misclassified over 2,300 delivery drivers. The company settled for $228 million.
One of the nation’s biggest federation of labor unions, AFL-CIO, considers the delivery service industry one of the most rampant violators of employee misclassification.
Even small companies have been taken to court over these violations. In October 2015, two drivers for Miami-based Quick Messenger Services won $24,000 each in reimbursement for back wages and unpaid overtime.
Are you considered an employee?
According to the Department of Labor, employee misclassification is “one of the most serious problems facing [US] workers.”
Even though a company may register its workers as an independent contractor, the company still assumes managing and controlling every aspect of the job, including wages and hours.
These duties would typically categorize the person under “employee” rather than independent contractor. But employees are entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay, as well as fringe benefits and unemployment. Many of these courier services would rather break the law.
Every courier and delivery driver should understand the definition of employee and independent contractor. The economic difference between these two can be astronomical.
Unfortunately, there is no clear definition for either category. An independent contractor isn’t a simple title you can slap onto a person. Being an independent contractor can get pretty complicated.
The fact of the matter is, business models in the United States are constantly changing and often at rapid speed. Many companies outsource work that was previously performed by their own employees. A third-party may be used, and those would be considered an independent contractor.
In July 2015, the Wage & Hour Division of the Department of Labor issued new guidelines on the distinction between an employee and an independent contractor. In it, the federal agency made a pretty drastic change from the previous guidelines.
An employee used to be defined by the word “control”– wherein a worker was more likely considered an employee when the employer exerted more control over their working life. This would automatically entitle them to overtime pay and minimum wage.
Now, the definition is moving away from the word “control” and toward “economic realities.” It’s less important that your employer sets working hours for you, or tells you how to do the work you’re assigned.
As a delivery driver, you should pay more attention to how economically dependent you are on a courier service. Below are six fundamental questions (outlined by the US Supreme Court) you should ask yourself about your employment relationship.
1. Integral part of the business
An integral courier service is delivering items to clients and customers. It’s quite obvious a courier and delivery person is “integral” to this business model.
The opposite of this would be a contractor who paints the delivery company’s office. They wouldn’t be considered integral, since the company doesn’t profit off of its office color.
2. Do you lose out or gain based on “managerial skill”?
Do the decisions you make for the job affect the money you ultimately make? How much loss you sustain? How often you decide to work, or how many hours you pick up for a shift are not considered “managerial skills.” Though deciding on the route you take for a delivery might exhibit managerial skills, it probably doesn’t qualify in this category.
3. Are you “invested” in the business?
Do you drive your own vehicle, ride your own bicycle, or use your own form of transportation? Or is the vehicle owned by the company? An independent contractor may make a significant investment in their business, and be willing to incur the loss for it. It is important to note that riding your own bike isn’t enough of an investment to “support a business as a business beyond any particular job.”
4. Does your work require “special skill and initiative”?
Your business skills matter in this category. How well you operate a vehicle does not. Do you consider yourself as an independent business where you go out and find new clients?
5. Permanent or indefinite job relationship?
An independent contractor works a specific job, performs a specific function, and finds a new employer. An employee, however, works for an “indefinite” period of time.
6. How much “control” does your employer have over you?
We have mentioned “control” previously, but this is one extra step. Do you find yourself exercising control over the “meaningful” aspects of the job? Or do you have to follow your employer’s directions?
Do I Have a Delivery Driver Overtime Lawsuit? Contact our FLSA Overtime Lawyers for a Free Case Review.
If you feel that your employer is violating their requirement to pay you what you deserve, you should contact us for a free, no obligation case evaluation. We are actively filing new overtime lawsuits across the county and you may be entitled to financial compensation for your unpaid overtime wages.
We offer a Free Case Evaluation. Please contact us using the form below or by calling us at (800) 279-6386. We would be honored to speak with you and respond promptly to every inquiry we receive.