On March 5, 2019, a team from Vanderford & Ruiz’ Orange County and Pasadena offices led by partner Todd Picker obtained a significant victory at trial on behalf of a Southern California drayage company in an employment “wage and hour” misclassification case. The drayage company had been sued by a group of former truck drivers who claimed that they had been misclassified as independent contractors as part of a scheme by the company to defraud them and obtain an unfair advantage over the company’s competitors.
Mr. Picker, who was assisted by partner Erin Uyeshima and associate Zeeshan Kabani, successfully argued that the California Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dynamex Operations West v. Superior Court, 4 Cal. 5th 903 (2018) and the so-called “ABC test” could not be applied “retroactively” and that plaintiffs were, in fact, independent contractors not employees. The trial team demonstrated that the critical element of “control” necessary to establish the existence of an employment relationship (see S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations (1989) 48 Cal.3d 341 [256 Cal.Rptr. 543, 769 P.2d 399]) was lacking. Although the plaintiffs argued the defendant trucking company defined and supervised their work, their attempt to establish “control” was unsuccessful. During cross-examination Plaintiffs were repeatedly impeached and forced to admit that they had lied on important documents.
The employee/independent contractor misclassification issue is one that employers throughout the country have been struggling to address and effectively handle. The California Supreme Court’s recent Dynamex decision is upending large and small workplaces across the state, affecting a broad swath of businesses from hair dressers, software coders and insurance agents to large companies like Uber an Lyft. See Roosevelt, Margot “Are you an employee or contractor?” Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2019. The trial victory obtained by Vanderford & Ruiz is one of the first to address the independent contractor misclassification issue post-Dynamex.
Vanderford & Ruiz, LLP is a litigation firm founded in 2005 providing aggressive and innovative representation to public entities, employers, and insurance companies throughout the State of California. The firm has offices in Pasadena, Orange County and San Francisco. Representative clients include Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s of London, Global Aerospace, the City of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District, Metrolink, Chartis, and Bob Hope Airport.
If you have any questions about this case please contact Mr. Picker in the firm’s Orange County office.