Estrada v. Fedex Ground Package System, Inc., 154 Cal. App. 4th 1 (2d Dist, 2007)
This lawsuit was originally filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court in 1999 with allegations that single-route FedEx Ground delivery drivers, Anthony Estrada, Jeffrey Morgan, Harvey Roberts among others, were incorrectly categorized as independent contractors with the company. The suit also alleged that the drivers were unfairly required to pay over a million dollars in out of pocket “operating expenses” to perform their job. Operating expenses for the drivers included all fuel, taxes, worker’s compensation insurance and regular maintenance ...view middle of the document...
After several appeals by FedEx Ground Package Delivery System Inc., this case finally ended in 2007 with the Second District Court of Appeal in California affirming the lower court’s decision that current and former drivers were not independent contractors but employee’s. The court also issued a certification order and affirmed the plaintiffs' right to recover their attorneys’ fees. To determine the fee award the court reversed and remanded the case back to a lower court for reconsideration of the amount and method of determining those fees.
After additional cross appeals, the employees were able to reverse two prior orders limiting the range of reimbursable expenses. The final award of the court effected over 27,000 FedEx drivers who were mislabeled as independent contractors.
Under this case the significance of the Courts decision to apply and expand the initial lawsuit of several FedEx employees to a class action claim was very important. The case applied to many drivers who operated in the role of employee but held the label of independent contractor. The court used an common thought process to evaluate what associates the difference in the status. Bennett-Alexander & Hartman (2012) state, “Under the common-law agency approach applied by the courts, the employer need not actually control the work, but must merely have the right or ability to control the work for a worker to be classified an employee”(pg. 12).