Trucking firm settles with Brown over misclassifying workers

By Chris Rizo | Feb 4, 2010

Jerry Brown (D)

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown on Thursday said he has won a judgment against a trucking company that was misclassifying workers as independent contractors.

The judgment entered last month marks the fifth similar lawsuit won by the Democratic attorney general against trucking companies operating in at California ports.

Brown said the firms, by misclassifying their workers, deny employees Social Security, Medicare and workers' compensation benefits to which they are entitled under state law.

The most recent judgment was against Pacifica Trucks LLC. The company agreed to pay a $5,000 penalty without admitting any wrongdoing in the case.

Brown said the firm failed to pay state employment-related taxes, contribute to Social Security and Medicare and provide W-2 forms to its employees.

"We're sending a clear message that if you cheat your workers, we're coming after you," Brown said Thursday. "Pacifica Trucks claimed that its workers were independent contractors in order to avoid paying the Social Security, Medicare and workers' compensation benefits to which they are entitled under state law. This judgment validates our continuing effort to ensure that all employees are protected."

Brown sued Pacifica in 2008, alleging that the trucking company was unlawfully classifying its workers as independent contractors as a way to circumvent paying state employment taxes and ignore labor laws.

In the lawsuit, Brown said Pacifica exclusive authority over its drivers and provided all of the trucks, equipment, gas, repairs, and other business-related expenses used by employees. Brown also said Pacifica Trucks had an unfair advantage over its competitors through the cost savings achieved by misclassifying its workers.

The judgment requires Pacifica Trucks to permanently refrain from misclassifying truck drivers as independent contractors and to pay a penalty.

Brown previously won lawsuits against the following trucking companies for similar violations: Guasimal Trucking, Jose Maria Lira Trucking, Esdmundo Lira Trucking and Noel and Emma Moreno Trucking.

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

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