California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Independent Contractors

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Telemarketers Were Independent Contractors, Not Agents Of Company

Jones v. Royal Admin. Servs., 2017 WL 3401317 (9th Cir. 2017) Charles Jones and Josh Watson (individuals whose cell phones are registered on the national do-no-call registry) sued Royal Administration Services for violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act for calls that were made by telemarketers who were employed by All American Auto Protection (“AAAP”), … Continue Reading

Employer Did Not Misappropriate Name And Likeness Of Employee

Local TV, LLC v. Superior Court, 3 Cal. App. 5th 1 (2016) Kurt Knutsson, a technology reporter who created “Kurt the CyberGuy” video segments for use on television news programs and station websites, sued Local TV for the use by its stations of CyberGuy material. Although Knutsson had entered into a written agreement pursuant to … Continue Reading

Employee Could Proceed With Misclassification Claim, Though Wrongful Termination Claim Was Properly Rejected

Davis v. Farmers Ins. Exch., 245 Cal. App. 4th 1302 (2016) William A. Davis brought suit against Farmers, claiming he had been wrongfully classified as an independent contractor rather than an employee and asserting that he had been wrongfully terminated on the basis of his age. The trial court directed a verdict in Farmers’s favor … Continue Reading

Unfair Competition Claim Against Trucking Company is Not Preempted By Federal Law

People v. Pac Anchor Transp., Inc., 2014 WL 3702674 (Cal. S. Ct. 2014) The People on behalf of the State of California filed this unfair competition law (“UCL”) action against Pac Anchor Transportation, Inc., for misclassifying drivers as independent contractors and for other alleged violations of California labor and unemployment insurance laws.  In response, Pac … Continue Reading

FedEx Drivers Are Employees Not Independent Contractors

Alexander v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc., 2014 WL 4211107 (9th Cir. 2014) In this class action the named plaintiffs represent approximately 2,300 individuals who were full-time delivery drivers for FedEx in California between 2000 and 2007.  FedEx characterizes its drivers as independent contractors in its Operating Agreement.  Similar cases to this one were filed … Continue Reading

Trial Court Must Determine Whether Action Challenging Independent Contractor Status Could Proceed As A Class Action

Ayala v. Antelope Valley Newspapers, Inc., 2014 WL 2924954 (Cal. S. Ct. 2014) Plaintiffs Maria Ayala, Rosa Duran and Osman Nuñez sought to certify a class of newspaper home delivery carriers in a lawsuit brought against Antelope Valley Newspapers, Inc. (“AVN”), alleging that AVN had improperly classified the carriers as independent contractors rather than employees … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Leaves Unanswered Questions in Independent Contractor Case

On Monday, June 30, 2014, the California Supreme Court handed down its decision in Ayala v. Antelope Valley Newspapers, a lawsuit brought on behalf of a group of newspaper delivery carriers who alleged that they had been misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees.  The trial court had initially denied certification, finding that common issues … Continue Reading

Trial Court Erred In Failing To Certify Class Action For Unpaid Overtime And Meal-And-Rest Breaks

Bradley v. Networkers Int’l, LLC, 2012 WL 6182473 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012) The three named plaintiffs in this case were among approximately 140 skilled workers retained by Networkers to provide repair and installation services at cell sites. Each worker was required to sign a standard contract, which stated that he or she was an independent … Continue Reading

California Law Should Have Been Applied To Determine If Drivers Were Employees Or Independent Contractors

Ruiz v. Affinity Logistics Corp., 667 F.3d 1318 (9th Cir. 2012) Fernando Ruiz and similarly situated drivers filed a class action against Affinity alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and California law for failure to pay overtime, failure to pay wages, improper charges for workers’ compensation insurance and unfair business practices. To work … Continue Reading

Nonexclusive Insurance Agent Was An Independent Contractor

Arnold v. Mutual of Omaha Ins. Co., 202 Cal. App. 4th 580 (2011) Kimbly Arnold filed a complaint against Mutual of Omaha on her behalf and on behalf of a putative class of similarly situated “licensed agents” and “sales representatives” of the company, alleging violations of the California Labor Code, including provisions governing expense reimbursement … Continue Reading

Employee of Independent Contractor Cannot Sue Company That Hired Contractor for Negligence

SeaBright Ins. Co. v. US Airways, Inc., 52 Cal. 4th 590 (2011) US Airways uses a conveyor to move luggage at San Francisco International Airport. US Airways hired independent contractor Lloyd W. Aubry Co. to maintain and repair the conveyor and did not direct Aubry’s employees in their work. The conveyor lacked certain safety guards … Continue Reading

Investor Permitted To Proceed With Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Claim Against NY Life

Oravecz v. New York Life Ins. Co., 95 Cal. Rptr. 3d 1 (Cal. Ct. App. 2009) Paul Oravecz sued Steve Roth and New York Life (which was allegedly Roth’s employer) after losing money in an investment in an offshore foreign currency trading fund, which Oravecz alleged was a “Ponzi scheme.” Among the claims Oravecz alleged … Continue Reading

Investor Permitted To Proceed With Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Claim Against NY Life

Oravecz v. New York Life Ins. Co., 95 Cal. Rptr 3d 1 (Cal. Ct. App. 2009) Paul Oravecz sued Steve Roth and New York Life (which was allegedly Roth’s employer) after losing money in an investment in an offshore foreign currency trading fund, which Oravecz alleged was a “Ponzi scheme.” Among the claims Oravecz alleged … Continue Reading

Messengers Were Independent Contractors And Not Employees

Cristler v. Express Messenger Systems, Inc., 171 Cal. App. 4th 72 (2009) James Cristler and others sued Express Messenger, a parcel delivery service, for violations of California law based upon Express’ allegedly illegal classification of its workers as independent contractors and not employees. Among other things, plaintiffs alleged violations of the California overtime requirements, as … Continue Reading

Independent Contractor’s Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Was Properly Dismissed

Varisco v. Gateway Science & Eng’g, Inc., 166 Cal. App. 4th 1099 (2008) Gateway engaged Al Varisco to provide construction inspection services on two projects it was doing for the Los Angeles Unified School District (“LAUSD”). Gateway retained Varisco pursuant to a letter agreement whereby he was to be paid $75 per hour for the … Continue Reading

FedEx Drivers Were Employees For Purposes Of Obtaining Reimbursement For Expenses

Estrada v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc., 154 Cal. App. 4th 1 (2007) Anthony Estrada, a former driver for FedEx, alleged unfair business practices under Business & Professions Code § 17200, contending that the pick-up and delivery drivers were improperly classified as “independent contractors” rather than employees and, as a result, they were owed reimbursement … Continue Reading

Class-Action Plaintiffs Could Not Appeal Dismissal Of Non-Participating Members’ Claims

Estrada v. RPS, Inc., 125 Cal. App. 4th 976 (2005) Anthony Estrada, a former driver for RPS, alleged unfair business practices under Business & Professions Code § 17200, contending that RPS unlawfully classified its pickup and delivery drivers as “independent contractors” rather than employees and, as a result, had failed to reimburse them for employment-related … Continue Reading

Temporary Insurance Adjusters Are Not Permitted To Proceed With FLSA Class Action

Pfohl v. Farmers Ins. Group, 2004 WL 554834 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 1, 2004) Thomas Pfohl filed this putative class action for unpaid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated individuals who worked for Farmers as temporary full-time insurance adjusters. In this proceeding, the District Court … Continue Reading

Newspaper Columnist May Have Been Terminated In Violation Of Public Policy

Ali v. L.A. Focus Publication, 112 Cal. App. 4th 1477 (2003) Najee Ali, who worked as the community affairs columnist for L.A. Focus Publication, was terminated after he expressed support while a guest on a local radio program for Antonio Villaraigosa, a candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, and criticized United States Representative Maxine Waters … Continue Reading

Good Cause Was Not Required To Terminate Independent Contractors Of Insurance Company

Appling v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 340 F.3d 769 (9th Cir. 2003) The State Farm agents in this case alleged that the company had terminated them in breach of their independent contractor agreements. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of State Farm, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that the termination … Continue Reading
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