In an ongoing investigation of California’s underground economy, state Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced a fifth legal judgment against trucking companies operating at California ports that deny workers “the Social Security, Medicare and workers’ compensation benefits to which they are entitled under state law.”
Last month, the Los Angeles Superior Court found that Pacifica Trucks, a Southern California fleet operator, misclassified its drivers as independent contractors. The company failed to pay state employment-related taxes, contribute to Social Security and Medicare and provide W-2 forms to its employees, according to the AG.
In 2008, Brown filed a lawsuit against Pacifica Trucks for unlawfully classifying its workers as “independent contractors,” circumventing state employment taxes and ignoring labor laws that guarantee workers’ compensation and disability benefits. In the lawsuit, Brown argued that Pacifica Trucks had exclusive authority over its drivers and provided all of the trucks, equipment, gas, repairs, and other business-related expenses used by employees. Under these conditions, the drivers should have been classified as employees with legally mandated protections and benefits.
Brown also argued that, in violation of California Business and Professions Code 17200, 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
- Noel and Emma Moreno Trucking
For information, visit http://ag.ca.gov/cms_attachments/press/pdfs/n1853_pacifica_complaint.pdf.
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