Misclassification Dispute of Truck Delivery Drivers as Independent Contractors Falls Outside the Arbitration Agreement Clause – Los Angeles Employment Attorneys Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik

by Norman B. Blumenthal on November 29, 2012

Michael Campbell Associates Ltd. required their owner-operator truck delivery drivers to sign a “Broker/Carrier Agreement” or “Transportation Agreement.” Both Agreements classified the truck delivery drivers as independent contractors and also contained a clause requiring all disputes to be settled through arbitration.

After the truck delivery drivers sued Michael Campbell claiming they were misclassified as independent contractors, the trial court granted Michael Campbell’s request to compel arbitration. The trial court also denied class arbitration, ordering ordered individual arbitration for each dispute. The truck delivery drivers appealed.

Under California law, like federal law, valid arbitration agreements to settle disputes will be enforced if the contractual language is clear and explicit. Here the California Court of Appeal found that a dispute on whether the truck delivery drivers were misclassified as independent contractors fell outside the mandatory arbitration clauses in the “Broker/Carrier Agreement” or “Transportation Agreement.” According to the appellate court the truck delivery drivers’ statutory rights were “distinct” from their contractual rights under the Agreements since the dispute did not concern the application or interpretation of the Agreements; rather, whether the drivers could enforce their rights under the California Labor Code. The trial court’s order ordering arbitration was reversed. Elijahjuan v. Superior Court, No. B234794 (Cal. Ct. App. Oct. 17, 2012).

If you believe you have been misclassified as an independent contractor, contact Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik. Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik is an experienced California employment law firm with offices located in San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The firm dedicates its practice to contingency fee employment law work for issues involving misclassification as a salaried worker exempt from overtime, failure to pay vacation wages, misclassification as an independent contractor, off-the-clock work, wrongful termination, discrimination and other California labor laws.

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