Are Florida FedEx drivers independent contractors?
11th Circuit determines that issue of whether Florida FedEx drivers are independent contractors is for a jury to decide. By way of background, FedEx has been on an eternal quest to maintain nationwide treatment of their drivers as independent contractors. Obviously, the company does this to avoid employment taxes, overtime compensation, unemployment taxes and claims, workers compensation premiums and claims, group health insurance expenses and other employee benefits. FedEx drivers around the country have filed class action lawsuits to challenge the independent contractor designation with mixed results. The battles continue.
Message to employers: be careful when trying to save a buck by treating workers as independent contractors. Any “savings” to be had by that treatment may transform into a significant liability if it is ultimately found that your workers were misclassified and were/are actually employees. This could invite wage hour problems and scrutiny from state and federal taxing agencies. The IRS is particularly unforgiving. Also, incorrectly classifying employees as independent contractors would likely lead to an under-reporting of employee numbers for purposes of workers compensation premiums- that could be considered fraud. In fact, I know a business owner who served jail time for workers compensation fraud stemming from the under-reporting of employee numbers.