Drivers for a Houston area public service transit company have recently resolved unpaid wage claims from a collective action filed back in 2020. The nearly $4.9 million settlement will cover claims of unpaid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The original complaint alleged drivers were wrongly classified as independent contractors when they should have been considered employees entitled to overtime pay at time and a half their regular hourly rate when working over 40 hours per week. More than 260 drivers stand to benefit from the $4,875,000 million settlement with each driver receiving an average of nearly $19,000.
Drivers for the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County were hired to complete services under the METROLift program, a public transit service for people with disabilities, and consistently worked nearly 60 hours per week without any overtime pay. Due to the nature of control that the company had over these workers, the FLSA can consider them to be employees of the company rather than independent contractors. For example, drivers were required to adhere to the company’s policy, procedures, scheduled routes and hourly rates. Company employees also supervised the drivers’ daily activities and could discipline them as well. Additionally, all drivers wore a company uniform and drove a company vehicle with the company logo on it. In reality, drivers had little to no control over any aspect of their employment with Metro. In this regard, drivers should not have been classified as independent contractors and instead should have been treated as employees entitled to overtime pay.
Companies often misclassify workers as independent contractors in order to save on labor costs. While employees are entitled to protections, such as minimum wage and overtime pay,independent contractors lack these benefits. If you’re not sure if you’ve been classified correctly under the FLSA, give our employment law firm, Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP, a call for a free and confidential consultation at (212)300-0375. You can also visit our website for additional helpful information regarding your rights.