Many California truck drivers are independent contractors, but are wondering if they are classified correctly. Under a new California Supreme Court opinion (Dynamex), transportation workers in California are legally presumed to be employees. A trucker is considered misclassified as an independent contractor under California law unless the trucker’s hiring company can show all of the following: (a) the truck driver is free from the control of the hiring entity; (b) the trucking job falls outside the hiring entity’s usual course of business (i.e., the company is not a “trucking company”); and (c) the trucker operates a business that is independent of the hiring entity (such as by working with other companies).

Are you a California truck driver classified as an independent contractor?

There is a strong chance you’re misclassified. Contact us for a no-cost consultation with an attorney.

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California Truck Drivers: Employees vs. Independent Contractors?

In a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court made it much harder in 2018 to classify workers in California as independent contractors. The case, Dynamex Operations West v. Superior Court, concerned whether Dynamex’s delivery drivers had been misclassified as independent contractors and should have been employees. The case was assessing how workers need to be classified under Wage Order 9, the California labor department’s wage order that applies to transportation-industry workers. In Dynamex, the California Supreme Court stated:

Although in some circumstances classification as an independent contractor may be advantageous to workers as well as to businesses, the risk that workers who should be treated as employees may be improperly misclassified as independent contractors is significant in light of the potentially substantial economic incentives that a business may have in mischaracterizing some workers as independent contractors.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, “The ruling is likely to lead many employers in California to immediately question whether they should reclassify independent contractors rather than face stiff fines for misclassification, employment lawyers said.”

In Dynamex, the California Supreme Court made clear that a delivery or truck driver could be classified as an independent contractor “only if the worker is the type of traditional independent contractor — such as an independent plumber or electrician — who would not reasonably have been viewed as working in the hiring business.”

a california trucker driving a truck on california highway

What are the penalties for misclassifying a California truck driver as an independent contractor?

California truck drivers who are misclassified as independent contractors can collect penalties of up to $25,000 per trucker from their hiring entity. Generally, if the hiring entity is a trucking company, it should be classifying its workers as “employees” because under the California Supreme Court Dynamex decision, the truck drivers are engaged in the main line of the work of the company. The Dynamex decision would allow a California trucking company to hire accountants or electricians as “independent contractors,” but not truckers because the company’s core business is trucking.

Misclassified truck drivers in California can additionally collect damages for being misclassified. Damages include backpay for all the benefits the truck driver would have been entitled to if properly classified as an employee, including the California overtime pay, expense reimbursement (including for mileage, food, hotels), meal and rest breaks required in Calfiornia, and paystubs. Failure to provide breaks and paystubs in California can also result in substantial damages and penalties.

Our Attorneys Representing California Truck Drivers

Steven Tindall

Steven Tindall has specialized in employment and class action litigation for eighteen years. He has been lead or co-lead counsel on several cases that resulted in settlements worth over $1 million.

Amanda Karl

Amanda represents employees, consumers and investors in complex class action lawsuits nationwide. She was a law clerk to Hon. Richard A. Paez of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and to Hon. Claudia Wilken, Northern District of California.

Steve Lopez

Steve Lopez represents consumers, employees, and whistleblowers harmed by corporate misconduct. He has prosecuted a variety of consumer protection and complex employment cases.

Aaron Blumenthal

Aaron Blumenthal represents consumers, employees, and whistleblowers in class action and other complex litigation.

Our California Employment Law Experience

Our California employment attorneys – with over 50 years of collective experience litigating under California employment law – know how to fight for employees’ rights and get them the money they deserve. We’ve recovered tens of millions of dollars for California employees and represent individuals as well as class actions in virtually every area of California employment and labor laws: California overtime law, off the clock violations in CA, breach of contract disputes, California independent contractor law, sexual harassment, employee misclassification, discrimination, as well as mass layoffs in violation of the California WARN Act. Our California employment lawyers are repeatedly recognized for their expertise litigating in California. Founding partner Eric Gibbs has been selected as one of the Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California. And seventeen of the firm’s attorneys were selected as Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, a distinction received by less than 5% of attorneys in Northern California.

About Us

Gibbs Law Group is a California-based law firm committed to protecting the rights of clients nationwide who have been harmed by corporate misconduct. We represent individuals, whistleblowers, employees, and small businesses across the U.S. against the world’s largest corporations. Our award-winning lawyers have achieved landmark recoveries and over a billion dollars for our clients in high-stakes class action and individual cases involving consumer protection, data breach, digital privacy, and federal and California employment lawsuits. Our attorneys have received numerous honors for their work, including “Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California,” “Top Class Action Attorneys Under 40,” “Consumer Protection MVP,” “Best Lawyers in America,” and “Top Cybersecurity/ Privacy Attorneys Under 40.”

California truck driver with questions about independent contractor status?

Free consultation with one of our attorneys.

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1-800-254-9493