Trucker sues Atlas Van Lines and Stevens Transport; seeks class actions

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | 10/28/2016

A California law firm says it’s seeking class action status for two separate wage and misclassification lawsuits against Atlas Van Lines and its affiliates as well as Stevens Transport.
The lawsuits were filed by Los Angeles-based Haffner Law, on behalf of truck driver Frank Leitzbach, and others similarly situated.

Leitzbach worked for Stevens from December 2014 to October 2015, and prior to that worked for Atlas Van Lines for several years. According to court documents, he worked as a driver. The lawsuit claims he and the proposed class were incorrectly classified as an independent contractor.

Both Atlas Van Lines and Stevens Transport are accused of failing to pay drivers all wages, failure to reimburse business expenses, and failure to provide meal and rest breaks under California law. The complaint against Atlas Van Lines was filed Oct. 21 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, while the case against Stevens Transportation was filed at the federal level in U.S. District Court of California. The class includes drivers who worked or lived in California and were employed by either company within the last four years.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Joshua Haffner says one of the key issues in both suits is driver classification, and whether or not the members of the class were independent contractors, or should have been classified as employees, and entitled to reimbursement for meals and breaks under California law.

“Misclassification in the driving industry is endemic and it’s a problem for the drivers,” Haffner said in a phone interview with Land Line. “It’s a very widespread problem.”

Both lawsuits allege the companies violated California labor codes by requiring drivers to work shifts lasting more than four hours without receiving a 10-minute rest break; requiring drivers to work shifts longer than five or 10 hours and not providing or allowing required 30-minute meal breaks; and that both companies failed to pay class members for all hours worked. The suit also alleges that class members suffered loss of wages and compensation by failing to be paid for all hours worked, and failing to be paid minimum and overtime wages.

“Defendant (Atlas Van Lines) has engaged in a pattern and practice of misclassifying their employees as independent contractors to avoid the taxes, insurance and other costs that accompany employees,” the complaint against Atlas Van Lines states.

Representatives for Atlas Van Lines and Stevens Transport did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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