Judge backs FedEx: drivers are independent contractors, not employees

| Thursday, December 16, 2010

Since 2001, FedEx Ground has been embattled in numerous class-action lawsuits filed by its independent contractors across the country who say they have been misclassified and are actually employee drivers.

On Tuesday, Dec. 14, U.S. District Judge Robert Miller of Indiana sided with FedEx on this issue, dismissing 20 of its 28 consolidated class-action cases against them, ruling that its drivers are indeed independent contractors.

The court returned a number of individual cases to the courts in which they originated for determination of the plaintiff’s employment status in eight states where they worked: Alabama, Arkansas, California, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Massachusetts.

In his 182-page decision, Miller ruled that there was no reasonable inference that FedEx retained the right to control the “methods and means of the drivers’ work on a class-wide basis.”

In a statement, Maury Lane, director of corporate communications, said FedEx is “very pleased with today’s significant rulings from the federal District Court in Indiana in favor of FedEx Ground related to the independent contractor business model.”

Lynn Faris of Leonard Carder LLP, who is the lead counsel for the FedEx drivers, stated on Thursday, Dec. 16, that the plaintiffs will appeal Judge Miller’s decision.

“The upshot of these rulings is that drivers doing the same work will be classified differently in different states and, indeed, for different purposes within the same state,” Faris said. “This is a result that I do not believe either side expected or wanted.”

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