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Court Rules That California Truck Drivers Are "Employees"

Court Rules That California Truck Drivers Are “Employees”The intense debate regarding the proper legal label for California truckers may have been satisfied, at least for the time being.

In Miranda v. Pacer Cartage, a San Diego County Superior Court judge ruled that truckers are employees for purposes of wage and hour laws, and awarded the plaintiffs $2 million in damages. The drivers say they were denied health insurance, overtime, sick pay and other benefits. Judge Jay Bloom wrote that control is the key issue, and Pacer Cartage did not set their own rates, had to be on call, had to follow company rules and faced other limits.

Most importantly, the company, and not the drivers, owned the trucks.

The court's decision is both good news and bad news for truckers. While it may allow access to important benefits and legal protections, it also means that new drivers face more rigorous screening.

The Pre-employment Screening Program is essentially the new DAC report. The major difference is that the federal government runs the PSP, so the procedure is a little less user-friendly, to put it mildly. Your PSP score is based on the last five years of inspection and crash history. The scores are updated about once a month or six weeks. If the score is too high, and most carriers have their own definition of "too high," you may be refused employment.

Violations are supposed to drop off a PSP report after five years. The reality is that sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. Moreover, the data typically comes from law enforcement and not the courts. Assume that you failed an inspection because of a minor mechanical defect, and when you fixed your truck the judge dismissed the citation. That ticket may still show up on your PSP report.

An attorney regularly practicing in Mojave can clear up any inaccuracies or discrepancies in your PSP report and lower your score.