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Southern California trucking firm sued for misclassifying workers

Two brothers who were hired as independent contractors by Harbor Express Inc. are now pursuing a lawsuit against the trucking company, accusing the company of violating their rights by failing to classify them as direct employees of the company.

The brothers claim that they are not the only workers who have been intentionally misclassified as independent contractors by Harbor Express, which is one of the largest trucking firms in Southern California. The brothers reported that they are seeking class-action status. The lawsuit claims that Harbor Express misclassified truck drivers in order to avoid having to pay its workers overtime wages and to avoid having to provide workers with certain employment benefits, including meal breaks, rest breaks and workers' compensation benefits.

If class-action status is granted, more than 400 past and current workers could be affected by the brothers' desires to protect their rights and the rights of other workers who may have been wronged by the trucking firm.

According to the plaintiffs' attorneys, the two truck drivers should not have been classified as independent contractors for Harbor Express because the truck drivers operated trucks that were owned by Harbor Express, and because the truck drivers did not have the freedom to decide what job assignments they wanted to take on or pass up. The lawsuit argues that the truck drivers should have been classified as direct employees of the trucking firm.

As a result of the employer's wrongdoings, the workers have been denied overtime pay and other important benefits, the lawsuit argues. These alleged labor violations are very serious, especially since this means that workers may not have been compensated properly for their work. If you believe that your employer has violated similar labor laws in California, you will want to consult an attorney to learn more about whether you have the right to obtain compensation for your employer's wrongdoings.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Truck drivers sue over overtime, meal breaks," Ricardo Lopez, May 15, 2013

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