Swift Transportation Co. Inc. has agreed to pay $100 million to about 20,000 drivers to settle a class action alleging that it makes its drivers fake owner-operators in order to avoid federal and state wage laws. The lawsuit was filed in December 2009 and alleged that Swift misclassified its drivers as independent contractors and paid them below the federal minimum wage after making them lease and maintain their trucks and pay for gas, tolls, insurance and other costs. The suit also included claims for violations of state wage, contract and forced labor laws.

Swift tried to compel the drivers to arbitrate their claims individually pursuant to arbitration agreements in the independent contractor agreements. An Arizona federal judge rejected Swift’s arbitration bid in early 2017, saying the pacts were invalid under a Federal Arbitration Act exemption barring interstate transportation companies from making workers covered by “contracts of employment” bring claims in arbitration. In January 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court said the FAA’s so-called transportation exemption applies to contractors, mooting an appeal by Swift.

The case is Virginia Van Dusen et al. v. Swift Transportation Co. Inc. et al., case number 2:10-cv-00899, before the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

This blog is intended to provide information to the general public and to practitioners about developments that may impact Oregon class actions.

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In an interesting twist on the interpretation of the Federal Arbitration Act, an Arizona federal judge ruled that drivers’ contractor agreements with Swift Transportation Co. were contracts of employment, making them exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”).  The FAA  exempts from arbitration “contracts of employment of seamen, railroad workers, and workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” Continue reading “Swift Truck Driver Contractor Agreements Ruled to Be Contracts of Employment”