A California-based trucking company must pay nearly $180,000 in back wages and expenses to a former employee misclassified as an independent contractor.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled last month that trucker Ho Woo Lee was owed $179,390 in back pay and expenses from his former employer, Laca Express Inc., according to a news release from the California Labor Commissioner’s office. The judge’s ruling concurred with findings from the labor commissioner, where Lee initially filed a claim against Laca in December 2012.
Lee said Laca Express unlawfully deducted $83,292 from his paycheck in violation of state labor codes, including more than $80,000 in weekly lease and insurance payments that were deducted from his paycheck as part of an apparent lease-purchase agreement. Laca repossessed the truck after terminating Lee’s employment.
The Labor Commissioner’s Office issued a ruling in Lee’s favor for $161,205. Laca appealed the ruling, asking for the state court to intervene. The Labor Commissioner’s office represented Lee in the court case.
Judge Ross Klein determined that Lee was owed $179,390 plus costs and attorney’s fees for unlawfully deducted wages, reimbursable expenses (such as fuel and truck repair costs), interest and penalties.
“Judge Klein’s ruling will go a long way toward making Mr. Lee whole for the unlawful behavior of Laca Express,” Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su said in the release. “The judgment will also serve as a deterrent to wrongful misclassification of workers and other forms of wage theft.”
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