October 27, 2009

FedEx Sued: Mooning in Moon Township?

Labor officials of three states have written to FedEx, announcing their intention to file suit for "widespread, long-term, and unlawful employment practices." We have blogged this employment law conundrum many times (search "independent contractors" in the box to the right). There are at least two mysteries in this action: why only three states are participating (FedEx has lost court cases in at least six states and doomed to lose in many others) and why the states chose to sue at this particular time.

FedEx has until today to file objections to the suit. The complaint was filed from the office of the attorney general in New York and included the signatures of officials from Montana and New Jersey (a somewhat odd triumvirate). Their letter is addressed to William Conley, Esq., managing director of the FedEx Legal Department. With an office in Moon Township PA, Conley may end up mooning the AGs in response - after all, FedEx thus far has shown little interest in conventional employment standards. Mr. Conley runs what must be a very busy office, as there have been numerous court challenges to the FedEx business model. FedEx calls their delivery drivers "independent contractors," even though the drivers must wear FedEx uniforms (no white sox!), drive FedEx trucks, adhere to FedEx timetables, use FedEx scanners and meet detailed FedEx standards. Drivers they are; independent they are not.

The AGs are seeking restitution, damages, civil penalties and other unspecified types of relief.

Is It Legal, Or Is It FedEx?
In some instances, individuals take over FedEx routes and hire others to do the driving. Even though these subcontractor drivers must meet the explicit FedEx standards, the entrepreneurs managing the routes can run the businesses with at least some degree of independence. But where the driver has no employees and simply covers the route for FedEx, there is no credible case to be made for independence.

The FedEx business model has been languishing in state courts for years. Meanwhile, thousands of drivers have labored without a safety net. They work without benefits. If injured, they are completely on their own. It is not difficult to imagine the sense of frustration and outrage that led to this legal action. As for the timing, the three states are filing suit just a few days before Halloween, when ghosts and goblins will prowl dark streets in search of a candy fix. It's as good a time as any to bury this bogus incarnation of the "independent contractor" concept once and for all.

| 1 Comment

1 Comment

Jon:

No driver has to work with/for Federal Express. They know when they contract with Federal Express exactly what their status is. They know the pit falls and the upside (The tax duductability of all business related costs incurred).

Why don't we just let the government set all wages for all positions. They are starting with the auto companies, the banks and wall street investment houses. Why not drivers and insurance agents and CPA's like me for that matter.

This country was founded on equal opportunity, individualism and self reliance. Not on equal outcome and government protection from the world at large.

If the Federal Express drivers really feel put upon let them turn to the labor rules (which I don't agree with either) and form a union. Like the Postal Service (A shining example of an organization that delivers a service) Then they can demand what ever they want until Federal Express dies a slow death like so many of the railroads, steel companies, auto companies and other heavily unionized sectors which have been transformed or off shored by feather bedding, out of date work rules and a zero sum attitude.

Lets go Government: Rah Yea!!

Charles

PS Congradualtions on the recognition. It is well deserved.

And on the fact that you take comments without cutting off my feed like some of the other blogs you quote from time to time.

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This page contains a single entry by Jon Coppelman published on October 27, 2009 10:13 AM.

Workers Comp Insider Named to LexisNexis Top 25 WC Blogs was the previous entry in this blog.

Halloween edition of Health Wonk Review; other news notes from the blogs is the next entry in this blog.

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