The California Court of Appeal (Second District) has ordered publication of an opinion affirming a judgment in yet another employee-misclassification case.
Garcia v. Seacon Logix, Inc., involved allegations of employee misclassification brought by four Port of Long Beach truck drivers for Seacon before the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE”). The DLSE found the drivers should have been classified as employees and not independent contractors. Seacon appealed the ruling to the Los Angeles Superior Court, where the court agreed with the DLSE. Seacon then appealed the trial court’s ruling, which was upheld by the Court of Appeal in an opinion certified for publication on July 30, 2015.
Important to the Court of Appeal’s opinion, as in any employee misclassification case, was the amount of control Seacon exercised over the drivers. The trial court found that the drivers credibly testified that Seacon tightly controlled the manner and means in which the work was performed, including controlling the drivers’ work hours, absences from work, delivery assignments, and use of trucks Seacon leased to them. The Court also gave short shrift to Seacon’s argument that agreements signed by the drivers defined them as independent contractors, observing that “the language in the agreement giving the drivers control over their work and describing them as independent contractors is not dispositive.”
Employers and HR professionals utilizing independent contractors on a regular basis are advised to continually and diligently evaluate their independent contractor agreements, practices, and policies with their employment counsel to protect themselves against costly lawsuits.
The full opinion in Garcia v. Seacon Logix, Inc. can be found here.
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