Swift Settles Driver Class Action Claims For $100 Million
19,000 truck drivers agreed to settle with one of the nations largest trucking companies for $100 million. It's the latest federal court win by truckers for better labor practices.
In a joint filing in Arizona federal court on Tuesday, Phoenix-based Knight-Swift Holdings agreed to pay up to $100 million to settle with drivers who claim they were misclassified as independent contractors and paid less than the minimum wage.
Traditionally, truckers are paid for every mile they drive, but a question at the center of court cases in recent years has been whether truck drivers should receive minimum wage while on the job but not driving.
Drivers filed suit in 2009 against Swift, arguing they were misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees and that prevented them from receiving not only minimum wage, but certain benefits granted under federal labor law.
The lawsuit claims that Swift treated truck drivers who leased trucks through the company as independent contractors even though they acted as full-time employees.
Swift allegedly made unlawful deductions from the drivers’ pay for truck lease payments, gas, equipment, maintenance, insurance, tolls and other expenses.
Driver attorneys argued this violates federal labor law, and that drivers should legally be classified as employees. They also alleged that the drivers could not have been truly independent because Swift was able to terminate the lease for any reason and continue to demand that all lease payments continue to be made.
The near-decade long case has been through multiple appeals to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as well as a petition to the Supreme Court.
NOTE: The lawsuit names Swift Transportation Co. in the litigation, as the Knight-Swift merger happened in 2017. The lawsuit dates back to December 2009, originating with Swift Transportation prior to the Knight Swift merger. Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc. is North America's largest trucking fleet, operating nationwide and in Mexico.