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Misclassified California trucker wins wage claim

He won -- twice.

It wasn't hard to determine which side was favored in an employment law case based on a trucker's classification as an independent contractor and subsequent docking of wages to pay for various items.

The trucker worked for a Los Angeles-based trucking firm, which regularly deducted money from his paychecks to pay for lease and insurance payments on a truck used by the driver. The company eventually fired the driver, repossessing the truck in the process.

The trucker filed a claim alleging that he was misclassified as an independent contractor and that the company's regular paycheck deductions were unlawful.

The California state labor commissioner agreed, ordering the former employer to pay the trucker back wages and expenses in the amount of $161, 205.

That outcome didn't sit well with the trucking company, which took the matter to a state court on appeal.

It then lost a second time, with the court recently upholding the commissioner's decision and tacking on more than $18,000 in interest and penalties. The court additionally ordered the firm to pay costs and the driver's attorney fees.

Wage disputes can center on a number of factors, which our blog has alluded to in prior posts. Companies sometimes refuse to pay for overtime hours that employees work, or charge excessive amounts for uniforms and equipment. Workers are sometimes denied legally mandated meal and rest periods or, as noted in this post, are unlawfully misclassified as other-than-regular employees, with deductions illegally taken from their pay.

In the above case, the labor commissioner represented the trucker on appeal.

Source: Overdrive, "Trucker awarded $180k in back wages and more over classification as contractor," Jill Dunn, Aug. 4, 2015