Truck drivers awarded $6 million in wage theft suit

A manager may also be held personally responsible for misclassifying drivers in what has been called an “unprecedented decision.”

A group of California port truck drivers were awarded a multi-million dollar settlement as part of an employment misclassification lawsuit.

This week, a group of 24 truck drivers employees by NFI Industries/California Cartage were awarded almost $6 million by the California Labor Commissioner after they were found to have been misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees, according to a report from the Long Beach Post.

Notably, the California Labor Commissioner also found that general manager at National Freight Industries/California Cartage Jim Degraw is to be held jointly liable for the employment misclassification of the truck drivers.

This move to hold Degraw personally accountable for the misclassification of the drivers who worked under him was called an “unprecedented decision” by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Teamsters say that this is the first time that individual liability provision of 2016’s California Senate Bill 588 has been applied in port trucking.

The California Labor Commission has made recent moves to cut down on wage theft against truck driver employees. Earlier this month, they posted a list of port trucking companies with unpaid wage settlements in an attempt to uphold a new California law that would hold shippers responsible for wage theft committed by trucking companies that they employ.

National Freight Industries/California Cartage is the largest trucking company at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach

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New York ceases ELD enforcement in wake of OOIDA lawsuit

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor |1/4/2019


In light of the state of New York’s failure to adopt ELD rules into its own state law, commercial vehicle enforcement of the electronic logging mandate in New York is on hold. The move comes following the filing of a lawsuit by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association to stop enforcement of the mandate.

The lawsuit, filed in January 2018, challenges the state’s enforcement of the electronic logging mandate. At the time of the lawsuit, New York was reporting violations of the ELD mandate to state and federal authorities.

After OOIDA’s suit was filed, the state of New York changed its ELD enforcement policies and that change has been recognized by the court.

The New York Supreme Court filed a decision, order, and judgment issued Dec. 31, 2018, recognizing the state of New York’s “current policy that ‘no tickets or notices of violation are to be issued citing the federal ELD regulations, and no violations of ELD rules are to be cited on the inspection report.’”

The court also recognized that the state’s inspectors “will accept ‘either log books or ELD data’ to establish compliance with (hours of service) requirements.” The decision further acknowledged that state inspectors may “not … examine eRODS or transfer any local data from the ELDs during roadside inspections.”

Effectively, the decision explains that the current policy is that law enforcement can look at paper logs or view the screen on the logging device for record of duty status, but they can’t download or transmit the data. Also, the data may only be used for HOS enforcement, not enforcement of the e-logging mandate.

The class action lawsuit filed by OOIDA challenges the authority under which New York was enforcing the ELD mandate.

Each state receives grant money from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to supplement enforcement efforts. To obtain this federal grant money, states agree to adopt the equivalent of the federal motor carrier safety regulations into their own state law. State enforcement officials may only enforce state law. Those officials are not authorized to enforce the federal regulations directly, the complaint states. Nor may state officials enforce laws that do not exist.

The complaint goes on to point out New York has not adopted anything into state law related to the ELD mandate. Therefore, OOIDA is seeking to halt state enforcement of the rule until it is properly incorporated and to stop the conduct of warrantless inspections of ELD data.

“New York’s policy change advances OOIDA’s mission to protect motor carriers and truckers in the face of the ELD mandate,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s president. “However, the court’s recent order is appealable and does not resolve other issues associated with the ELD mandate. Those issues include the privacy interests of drivers under the law.”

Importantly, the enforcement policy memorandum relied upon by the New York Court is subject to change by state authorities without notice or review by the public. Therefore, the case is ongoing and OOIDA is committed to continue pursuing the rights of truckers under this troublesome mandate, according to Spencer.