BOSTON (CN) – Faced with losing litigation in several states after misclassifying its drivers as independent contractors, FedEx is retaliating illegally by “terminating all of its single-route drivers” in Massachusetts, putting “FedEx delivery drivers throughout Massachusetts out of work,” drivers say in a class action. “This change would not have occurred but for FedEx having been challenged legally for misclassifying its delivery drivers as independent contractors,” the class claims in Suffolk County Court.
FedEx Ground Package System’s recently announced “ISP Transition,” to take effect by October, requires drivers who want to keep their jobs to form a corporation and purchase at least three “work areas” in one geographical location, according to the complaint.
Named plaintiffs Steven Hayes and Chris Johnson say that FedEx announced the change on the very day that it paid $3 million to settle the Massachusetts Attorney General’s complaint of violations of the state’s Independent Contractor Law.
“This change would not have occurred but for FedEx having been challenged legally for misclassifying its delivery drivers as independent contractors,” the complaint states. “This change therefore constitutes unlawful retaliation.”
More than 30 lawsuits have been filed against FedEx since 2005, claiming it misclassified drivers as independent contractors. A federal judge in May ruled in favor of Illinois drivers with claims similar to those pending in Massachusetts, according to the complaint.
“Drivers attempting to pursue an ISP agreement will essentially be former FedEx drivers who are required to make large expenditures in an attempt to keep their job but with no guarantee that they will even be able to work with or for FedEx in the future,” the complaint states.
“Given that there are only so many FedEx routes in Massachusetts which may be used to form ISPs and that starting an ISP will cost a FedEx driver a considerable amount of money (for which drivers do not even know how much they would be paid as an ISP), FedEx’s ‘transition’ to an ISP model will result in the loss of employment for many, if not most, Massachusetts delivery drivers,” according to the complaint. (Parentheses in complaint.)
The drivers want the “transition” enjoined, and unspecified damages.
They are represented by Shannon Liss-Riordan with Lichten & Liss-Riordan.