- On Wednesday, Federal Judge Susan Illston declined to enforce an $80 million penalty stemming from a lawsuit claiming that Wal-Mart owed several hundred California truck drivers the minimum wage for truck inspections and driving breaks, The Wall Street Journal reported.
- The drivers' attorneys had requested the additional $80 million in penalties and damages.
- Judge Illston agreed with Wal-Mart lawyers who argued that the additional penalties were an overreach, and that their drivers are among the best paid in the industry, earning upwards of $80,000 to $100,000.
Wal-Mart is not the only shipper to be in a legal skirmish with its drivers; other industries are facing similar battles.
Amazon is currently embroiled in a class action suit brought by a trio of delivery drivers claiming they should be classified as permanent staff. If classified as permanent staff, the drivers will be due compensation for unpaid overtime and business expenses. The case, brought in October 2016, draws on other aspects of the struggle between the self-employed and their clients and/or employers. In its answer, Amazon is relying on the need for each driver to prove economic dependence plus proof of commonality of experience among other drivers.
More recently, a judge presiding over a lawsuit involving Swift Transportation drivers ruled that the owner-operators of Swift's vehicles should be classified as employees, not independent contractors. U.S. District Judge John Sedwick concluded that Swift had "full control of the terms of the relationship," as owner-operators who leased trucks from the Swift subsidiary from a practical standpoint had to drive for the company. Due to this classification, the case will remain in federal court in order to decide whether the plaintiffs are owed back pay, similar to the Wal-Mart and Amazon drivers.