Trader Joe’s Delivery Drivers Classified as IC’s Entering Mediation
Mediation is up next for the dispute involving NFL and Trader Joe’s regarding driver classification. The lawsuit was filed five years ago on behalf of NFI drivers. The case included a long list of documents that illustrate how long it is taken the case to meander through the New Jersey court system. It was held up several times along the way as mediation efforts were launched, but nothing ever came of them. Now the parties involved will try again.
According to one of the attorneys involved, this is common. Many of the contractor cases the law firm deals with take a long time to be resolved, even when mediation is attempted. The attorney said the firm is dealing with approximately 30 similar long-lasting cases at the moment, which is not unusual.
The lawsuit claims that the drivers worked for NFI transporting groceries for Trader Joe’s stores throughout New England and the New York and New Jersey areas. The drivers involved did not use NFI trucks for the transport, leasing them to NFI and including NFI logos on the vehicles. According to the lawsuit, the drivers were dependent on the company for their business and were not allowed to work for any other company while driving for NFI. They were paid per mile with fuel surcharges and could not negotiate their earnings.
The suit further alleges that drives were paid for miles per trip set by the company even if it was inaccurate. They were also not compensated for bringing returns back from Trader Joe’s stores to the warehouse. Drivers were also given additional work duties for which they were not compensated.
The overriding issue in the lawsuit is employee classification. Because NFI classified drivers as independent contractors when they were not, they were able to take advantage of them.