Massachusetts judge dismisses $1.2 million lawsuit that claimed trucker was misclassified

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line associate editor | Friday, April 13, 2018

A federal judge Massachusetts dismissed a $1.2 million lawsuit from a truck driver who claimed he was misclassified as an independent contractor, saying the trucker didn’t provide services as an “individual.”

U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns granted the defendants Big E Transportation and Estes Express Lines summary judgment on April 12.

GCC Moving and truck driver Gary Cook provided last-mile delivery services for Big E Transportation and its corporate parent, Estes Express Lines, from March 2012 until August 2015. GCC Moving and Cook alleged that they were misclassified as independent contractors in violation of Massachusetts law. They sought recovery of insurance, payroll taxes, and other business expenses under the Massachusetts Wage Act.

Big E Transportation argued that GCC Moving did not provide services as an individual, meaning the independent contractor statute does not apply.

The court agreed, citing parts of the statute that say a worker is properly classified as an independent contractor if the employer can show that:

  • the individual is free from control and direction in connection with the performance of the service, both under his contract for the performance of service and in fact; and
  • the individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession or business of the same nature as that involved in the service performed.

“It is clear that the law applies only to individuals who have been misclassified as independent contractors — not companies,” the court wrote.

The court also noted that Cook functioned as a manager for GCC Moving and did not provide driving services to Big E in an individual capacity.

The complaint was filed in July 2016.

 

 

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