AG Brown targets So-Cal trucking companies

By Chris Rizo | Sep 5, 2008

Jerry Brown (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown on Friday filed lawsuits against two trucking companies operating at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach over alleged labor violations.

Long Beach-based Pac Anchor Transportation Inc. and fleet operator Jose Maria Lira are accused of violating state labor laws and seeking to avoid paying state taxes by illegally classifying their drivers as independent contractors.

While the majority of the roughly 16,800 drivers who serve the busy ports are considered independent contractors because they own their own trucks and are free to contract with any licensed motor carrier, Lira and Pac Anchor owned the trucks and forced employee drivers to claim independent status, the attorney general's office said.

By forcing drivers to claim independent contractor status, the companies were freed from providing disability and workers compensation benefits.

"We are cracking down on these two companies and investigating several others that are taking advantage of their workers and cheating the state out of payroll taxes," Brown said in a statement.

"These are low-paid truck drivers working long hours under onerous conditions who are not getting the benefits they deserve," the Democratic attorney general added.

The lawsuits were filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The attorney general's office said more lawsuits against other trucking firms at the ports will be filed soon.

The attorney general's office in February authorized a task force to investigate trucking companies at the Long Beach and Los Angeles Ports. The probe uncovered state labor law violations committed by several trucking companies operating at the ports.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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