Hundreds of truckers added to lawsuit against Oklahoma trucking company

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line associate editor | 7/31/2018

Hundreds of truck drivers have joined a collective action lawsuit that claims Sapulpa, Okla.-based John Christner Trucking violated federal and California labor laws.

The lawsuit alleges that the trucking company misclassified its truck drivers as independent contractors. A court document that was filed July 25 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma indicated that more than 400 truck drivers had opted in to the lawsuit.

Originally filed in California in 2017, the lawsuit claims that plaintiff Thomas Huddleston and the other truckers were employees and should have been paid as such.

“Despite classifying drivers as ‘independent contractors,’ John Christner Trucking treats plaintiff and drivers as employees,” the 2017 complaint stated. “John Christner Trucking bars drivers from engaging in business with anyone other than John Christner Trucking … Additionally, John Christner Trucking exercises significant control over, among other things, the way that drivers performed their job duties, the tools and equipment drivers are required to use to perform their job duties, drivers’ rate of pay, and drivers’ ability to work for any other businesses.”

Other complaints in the lawsuit were that truck drivers regularly worked between eight and 14-hour days without being able to take meal and rest breaks. The lawsuit also alleges that they were not reimbursed for truck lease payments, fuel and other expenses incurred while driving for John Christner Trucking. In addition, the truck drivers claimed that they did not receive accurate, itemized wage statements and that John Christner Trucking misrepresented how much drivers would earn.

Court documents allege that truck drivers for John Christner Trucking often worked 70-100 hours per week while being paid less than $500. The lawsuit also claims that it wasn’t uncommon for drivers to receive negative paychecks.

Darryl Christner, co-owner of John Christner Trucking, defended his company’s practices to the Tulsa World.

“We’ve been in business for a little over 32 years, so if we were patently doing something illegal or unethical on a continuous basis, we wouldn’t be in business,” Darryl Christner told the newspaper.

 

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