Worker abuse crackdown expanded by Calif. AG

Legal News Line Oct. 28, 2008, 10:38am

Jerry Brown (D)

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline)-Following earlier lawsuits, California Attorney General Jerry Brown sued three trucking companies operating at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles on Tuesday for denying their workers benefits and protections entitled to them under state workers' compensations laws.

"These companies take advantage of their workers by failing to provide them with state-mandated protections and benefits," Brown said. "Truck drivers at the ports work long hours under tough conditions. By unlawfully classifying workers as 'independent contractors,' these companies deny their employees important worker protections."

Beginning in February 2008, the attorney general's office authorized a task force to investigate trucking companies at Long Beach and Los Angeles Ports. The investigation uncovered numerous state labor law violations committed by several trucking companies operating at the ports. He filed lawsuits against two companies in September and promised more to come.

"We are cracking down," Brown said in September of companies taking advantage of port employees.

The latest companies to be sued are three locally owned trucking companies that allegedly are employing cost-cutting schemes to avoid state taxes, a statement said.

The lawsuits claim companies misrepresent their workers as independent contractors. But the companies control all aspects of the drivers' work. They own and maintain the trucks the workers drive. Drivers are paid by the hour and often forced to work 60 hours or more a week, the attorney general's office claims.

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