$15.45 Million Settlement in Oregon Court to be Paid by FedEx.In December 2016, a dispute that had been active for about ten years was resolved in federal court in Oregon. The allegations against FedEx were brought by drivers who were working as independent contractors, when from the point of view of the plaintiffs, they were actual employees of the company. The class action Oregon Employment lawsuit included approximately 400 plaintiffs.
Class actions are large cases brought by many individuals who have been damaged or injured in some way. In a class action, each individual’s claim is basically the same, and they go forward as a group against the person or company that has allegedly injured them.
Attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are always reviewing potential lawsuits on behalf of individuals who are seeking legal information on illegal business practices.
Basis for the FedEx Lawsuit
The drivers, from their perspective, alleged that FedEx improperly classified them as independent contractors. In this case, it appeared, FedEx underpaid them for overtime, as well as taking a variety of deductions from drivers that were alleged to have been illegal.
Employers seem to be using independent contractors more in an attempt to keep costs down in areas, including overtime and coverage for health benefits. A driver would have agreed upon work to perform on behalf of a client, but would remain somewhat autonomous, given the assumption that the drivers are not actual employees.
In the Oregon Labor Law class action against FedEx, plaintiffs alleged that the kind of supervision and protocol maintained over drivers was representative of an employer-employee relationship, as opposed to an employer-independent contractor association. Drivers did not feel really independent.
An appellate court had already determined that FedEx drivers were, truly employees of the firm. An appeal is filed with an appellate court by an unsuccessful party in a lawsuit in order to have a decision reviewed. Therefore, the alleged withholding of various deductions including overtime pay, were found to be illegal. In particular, FedEx was alleged to have withheld funds from the pay packets of some drivers for the electronic scanners used to track items that were slated for delivery.
Oregon Employment Labor Settlement
The Oregon settlement took care of drivers who worked for FedEx from July 1999 through 2015. Drivers who had worked more than 35 hours in any given week would be able to receive $128 per week as reimbursement for the scanners. Drivers who had worked more than 40 hours per week, driving trucks at 10,000 pounds or less, would be entitled to get up to $147 for each work week during which they worked overtime.
Before the Oregon employment labor settlement, FedEx had settled a large unpaid overtime lawsuit that included about 12,000 plaintiffs across 22 states. That settlement amounted to $250 million.
FedEx did not have to admit to any wrongdoing in agreeing to the $15.45 million settlement. FedEx, however, did respond to the settlement by altering its employment practices to comply with federal and state laws.
Oregon Employment Lawsuits Alleging Harassment
In April 2015, an engineer, born in Egypt, filed a lawsuit claiming harassment, discrimination, and other allegations against Daimler Trucks of North America LLC (Daimler), a prominent truck manufacturer based in Portland.
The 75-year-old engineer worked at Daimler from 2012 to 2014. Court documents stated he was acknowledged for engineering innovations that have saved Daimler over a million dollars a year in costs. However, the engineer maintained in his lawsuit, that he was harassed and subsequently fired from his job.
It was alleged that in private and in front of the engineers’ co-workers, his direct supervisor would ask the engineer about his retirement plans and imply that the engineer was too old for the job. The supervisor also yelled at the engineer and insulted his intelligence in front of co-workers. In one instance, the supervisor suggested that the engineer’s Ph.D. was not in engineering but, instead, a “doctor of animals,” the complaint said. It was also alleged the supervisor mocked the plaintiff’s accent, among other slurs.
The engineer retaliated with an Oregon employment labor lawsuit seeking $2 million: $1 million for lost wages and another $1 million for emotional distress.
Additional Oregon lawsuits against Daimler made similar allegations. In February 2015, four employees of the truck plant filed an Oregon labor and employment lawsuit, claiming they were subjected to racial slurs, threats, retaliation, physical abuse, and other discrimination because of their African-American heritage, it is alleged. The four workers are seeking $9.58 million in damages for lost wages and other injuries.