Recently, two Long Beach port truckers who had been misclassified as independent contractors, when they were really employees, achieved a landmark victory. Green Fleet Systems in Long Beach was not thrilled with the federal judge’s ruling against them, as they were ordered to cease illegal job misclassification activity, or face contempt of court. The court’s decision is the first of several injunctions in support of misclassified workers’ rights in U.S. history.
Misclassifying workers in order to pay them lower wages is not just a problem in California, occurring nationwide. According to the Teamsters’ General President Jim Hoffa, truckers were being treated like regular workers but illegally paid independent contractor wages for years.
The two truckers were fired by Green Fleet Systems last January for questioning whether their job classification was legal, for filing claims for stolen wages with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and for publicly standing up for the Teamsters Union. Such unjust dismissal is referred to as retaliation, an illegal action in violation of labor laws. The court’s decision to censure Green Fleet Systems acts as a warning to the trucking industry that workers have the right to union representation and cannot be fired for filing wage claim thefts.
Workers who feel they are misclassified as independent contractors should seek legal counsel and find out how the local labor laws apply in the specific situation.
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