The Contracting Con at FedEx Ground

arrowIndependent Contractors Denied Protections on the Job

  Millions of Americans are classified as independent contractors but essentially work as employees. Under the law, true independent contractors are supposed to be in charge of the methods they use to do their work. But misclassified workers suffer the worst of both worlds: they are without meaningful control over their work and lack the legal protections and benefits of employees.

Independent contractors are excluded from fundamental protections offered by many federal laws, including:

  • National Labor Relations Act (freedom of association)
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (discrimination and harassment based on race, religion, sex, national origin and pregnancy)
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (minimum wage, overtime)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act
  • Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act

Exposing the Independent Contractor “Guise” at FedEx Ground

FedEx Ground claims its nearly 15,000 drivers are independent contractors, and evidence grows suggesting these drivers are misclassified. Such misclassification tramples over workers’ rights and civil rights. In recent years, courts and government agencies have debunked FedEx Ground’s misleading independent contractor model:

  • In 2005, a federal court in Washington state ruled temporary drivers at FedEx Ground were in fact employees and entitled to federal and state wage and hour claims, stating: “The undisputed facts show that the drivers were dependent on [the company] for virtually every aspect of their job.” 

  • In five different instances since 2001, the National Labor Relations Board has consistently ruled that FedEx Ground drivers are employees. 

  • In 2004, a California state judge concluded FedEx’s so-called “independent contractors” were not independent.  The judge ruled FedEx Ground “…has close to absolute actual control” over the drivers and created “the constraints of an employment relationship with [the drivers] in the guise of an independent contractor model.”  The California Court of Appeals upheld this ruling in August 2007. Among the reasons the Court determined the drivers were employees:

    • Drivers’ routes can be reconfigured without drivers’ say.
    • The work drivers perform is core to the company’s business.
    • The company controls who drivers can hire.
    • The company can effectively terminate drivers “at will.
      (Estrada v. FedEx Ground, California Superior Court, Los Angeles County, BC 210130, 26 July 2004.