March 2, 2018 5:45 PM, EST

Drivers Sue XPO on Contractor Classification at California Ports

XPO LogisticsXPO Logistics

A suit filed against XPO Logistics Cartage centered on its classification process for drivers at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles added a new wrinkle to existing suits on the subject by requesting a permanent injunction against the firm for the practice.

Previous suits alleged that the company is misclassifying its drivers at the ports as contractors instead of employees and depriving them of certain wages and benefits. XPO has consistently defended the contractor business model, while settling some cases and appealing adverse rulings.

For instance, the company in 2016 settled a suit and agreed to pay $2.7 million to 520 drivers who alleged misclassification, through the agreement did not ban the firm from classifying the port drivers as contractors.

In May 2017, a federal judge upheld a California Labor Commissioner’s ruling in favor of five port and rail truck drivers who charged they had been misclassified by XPO as independent contractors. The drivers were awarded $958,660, but XPO has appealed and the case is pending.

This new suit follows a similar pattern. In it, three XPO Logistics Cartage drivers seek to be reclassified as employees instead of contractors, claiming they are dependent on XPO for work and must follow its rules. The drivers seek restitution for unpaid wages and several fees they had to pay to operate, along with workers’ compensation and insurance costs deducted from their pay.

The suit seeks class action status to represent as many as another 150 drivers and asks for a permanent injunction against XPO’s driver classification practices.

“By continuing to flaunt labor law, XPO is a ‘recidivist’ violator that must be stopped,” said Julie Gutman Dickinson, an attorney for the drivers.

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are ranked first and second, respectively, in the annual volume of cargo that moves through their gates. Combined, the two account for more than 25% of all container cargo in the U.S.

XPO declined to discuss the suit but in a statement said, “We know the vast majority of port drivers value their independence as contractors. We continue to believe in this industry model.”

XPO ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics list of the Top 50 largest logistics companies in the U.S. and Canada, and No. 3 on the TT list of the Top 100 largest for-hire carriers in North America.

The suit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by plaintiff’s attorneys Bush Gottlieb and the law offices of C. Joe Sayas Jr., both based in Glendale, Calif.