AGs take aim at FedEx over driver classifications

Chris Rizo Jun. 25, 2009, 5:10pm

Steve Bullock (D-Mont.)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Legal Newsline)-A group of eight state attorneys general on Thursday sent a letter to FedEx Ground, questioning whether the company is adhering to state employee classification laws.

In their letter, the attorneys general expressed concern that Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Corp. may be treating its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

Officials said that an improper worker classification could allow the company to avoid paying taxes and would leave workers without the basic protections such as unemployment insurance.

"Each of our states has a responsibility under our respective laws to protect a broad range of interests associated with the employment status of an individual. For example, workers' compensation insurance is uniquely a state law issue. Likewise, unemployment insurance, wage and hour protections, and civil rights protections are commonly enforced through state proceedings," said the letter from Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock.

The Bullock and seven other attorneys general who signed his letter are asking FedEx Ground to work with the states to ensure proper classification of workers and provide compensation to the states for past illegal practices.

"State and local governments in Ohio are being cheated out of hundreds of millions of dollars each year as a result of employee misclassification," said Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray. "We are committed to aggressively pursuing these misclassification cases to level the playing field for businesses that play by the rules and to protect Ohio's workers."

The letter was also signed by attorneys general of Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The effort by the attorneys general drew praise from the Teamsters Union, which represents UPS drivers.

"FedEx can't hide from its responsibilities to its workers," said Teamsters International Vice President and Director of the Package Division Ken Hall. "Federal and state agencies are taking action to make sure FedEx doesn't skirt the law and pays its fair share."

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