Most truckers work hard and have responsibilities unlike those of any other worker. Over the past few decades, a truck driver’s workload has increased while the pay and benefits have steadily declined.
One of the biggest factors fueling this change is the misclassification of truckers. Let’s look at what misclassification means, and what truck drivers can do about it.
What Exactly Is Misclassification?
Misclassification occurs when a trucking company labels a driver as a contractor when it would be more accurate to classify them as an employee.
The legal issues surrounding proper classification in the trucking industry can be complex, but the concept itself is straightforward. According to the Department of Labor, how a truck driver should be classified ultimately comes down to economic dependence.
In other words, if a driver depends on a trucking company for most of their income, they’re more likely to be considered an employee. However, if a trucking company provides only a portion of a driver’s income, they’d be less likely to have a valid legal claim that they’re misclassified.
The Criteria for Classification
The Supreme Court has stated that the appropriate classification of a worker hinges on several factors, including:
- The extent to which the driver’s services are an essential part of the trucking company’s business.
- The permanency of the relationship between the driver and the trucking company.
- The driver’s investment in equipment or how much of the equipment is owned and maintained by the trucker versus the trucking company.
- The nature and degree of control of work responsibilities by the company versus the driver.
- The driver’s opportunities for profit and loss.
- The level of skill required in performing the job and the amount of initiative, judgment, or foresight in open market competition with others required for the success of the claimed independent enterprise.
As you can see, many truckers possess qualities of an employee, though they’re often wrongly classified as independent contractors. They often rely on one company for the bulk of their income. Their services are essential to the trucking company’s success. They typically lack control over their own work responsibilities.
Misclassification creates a situation where trucking companies get the benefits of having an employee without the expenses of compensating them as such.
Why Do Trucking Companies Misclassify Drivers?
The answer is simple: it saves them money. Trucking companies save costs when they classify drivers as contractors instead of employees because they aren’t legally required to offer the same pay and benefits to contractors.
In some cases, trucking companies have even managed to shift the costs of maintaining and repairing trucks onto drivers, too. Though in the aftermath of the pandemic, truck driver pay saw an increase, it’s clear that it will take more than labor market trends to improve the situation most truckers face.
Legal Options for Truck Drivers
In the trucking industry, misclassification of truckers is a major issue, and it’s led to several lawsuits against trucking companies. Truck drivers are finding that by standing together and taking legal action, they can get the pay and benefits they’re legally entitled to.
If you’re considering your legal options after being misclassified, your first step should be contacting an experienced employment law attorney who knows these cases. They can review your case and help you determine the best path forward.
Contact Fieger Law for Help
Fieger Law is proud to help truckers fight for the payment and benefits they legally deserve. It’s unfortunate that truck drivers have been put in this position, but it’s important for them to understand that they have legal options.
Based in Michigan, Fieger Law helps truckers across the U.S. fight for their rights. Contact Fieger Law to learn how we can help you get the payment you’re entitled to.