One option many companies use to keep business running in tough times: employ independent contractors. But how can employers avoid legal trouble for misclassifying employees? Here’s some guidance from a recent court case:
FedEx was sued after refusing to bargain with a group of drivers who’d elected to unionize. The company’s argument: The drivers are independent contractors, not employees. Therefore, they didn’t have to bargain.
The drivers, on the other hand, claimed they had been improperly classified as contractors.
FedEx won the case. When issuing the decision, the court noted:
- FedEx has no control over the hours drivers work, the routes they take or any other details of daily performance
- Drivers are responsible for obtaining and maintaining their own trucks
- Often, a company would contract several routes and hire its own employees to do the work (those drivers worked for the contractor, not FedEx), and
- Drivers aren’t subject to reprimands or other discipline.
Cite: FedEx Home Delivery v. NLRB