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Ruling On Misclassification Of Independent Contractors Focuses On “Right-To-Control” Test

Federal Express classified 2,300 of its drivers in California as independent contractors rather than employees. The record reflected that FedEx assigned work to the drivers, expected them to work during specified periods, maintained control over the drivers’ service areas, trained them to do their jobs and interact with customers, undertook performance evaluations, imposed mandatory safe driving standards, imposed requirements for the appearance of vehicles and equipment, and required the drivers to wear FedEx uniforms. The “independent contractors” were required by FedEx to pick up and deliver packages within their assigned areas, to make deliveries every day that FedEx was open, and to deliver all packages on their assigned day.


Based on these factors, the federal court of appeals in San Francisco ruled in Alexander v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 16585 (9th Cir. 2014), that the drivers were actually employees who had been misclassified as independent contractors.  The court applied California’s “right-to-control” test, which focuses on whether the person to whom service is rendered has the right to control the manner and means of accomplishing the desired result.  It found that FedEx indeed controlled the manner or means by which the drivers’ work was performed.