Ruiz v. Affinity Logistics

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Labor Law
  • Date Filed: 06-16-2014
  • Case #: 12-56589
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Pregerson for the Court; Circuit Judge Paez and District Judge Jones
  • Full Text Opinion

When one controls the details of another’s work, courts must weigh a variety of factors to determine whether the worker is an employee or an independent contractor, including determining whether the “employer” has the right to control the details of the work.

Mr. Ruiz is a driver for Affinity Logistics Corporation (“Affinity”), a company that delivers home furnishings for a variety of corporations, including Sears. Affinity classified its truck drivers as independent contractors as opposed to employees. Upon employment, Affinity required their truck drivers to maintain 100 percent adherence to its policies and procedures. In this class action suit, Mr. Ruiz and other drivers are alleging that Affinity wrongfully classified the drivers as independent contractors and failed to provide them with a variety of California state law causes of action, including the failure to provide employee benefits. The district court concluded that the drivers were properly classified as independent contractors. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit looked to precedent from the California Supreme Court in this matter. The panel explained that in determining whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor, the court should weigh a variety of factors to determine the actual employment classification under law. The primary factor to consider is whether the supervisor, Affinity, had a right to control the details of the driver’s duties. In this case, Affinity retained all control over the drivers daily operations. Affinity determined drivers’ pay rates, schedules, routes, time off, and start times. Additionally, Affinity maintained possession of the trucks and leased them to the drivers, but required all equipment and trucks to stay on site and forbade outside use of the equipment. Affinity also had uniform requirements, and required the drivers to call headquarters after deliveries to insure that they were staying on schedule. The panel determined that Affinity’s control of “every exquisite detail” of the drivers work was sufficient evidence to find that the drivers were employees under California law. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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