Alexander v. FedEx

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Employment Law
  • Date Filed: 08-27-2014
  • Case #: 12-17458; 12-17509
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Fletcher for the Court; Circuit Judges Goodwin and Trott,
  • Full Text Opinion

An employers right to control the manner and means of a worker in order to achieve a desired result tends to show the worker’s status is that of an employee.

FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. (“FedEx”) implemented their Operating Act (“OA”) with the intention of managing the relationship of the drivers with the company’s standards. The requirements under the OA include how drivers must be trained, what they must wear, what they must drive, how they must behave, and how they must look while working. Many drivers (collectively "Plaintiffs”) filed suit for employment expenses and unpaid wages under the California Labor Code on the grounds of being improperly classified by FedEx as independent contractors and not employees. The plaintiff’s moved for partial judgment to establish their employment status as a matter of law. FedEx cross-moved for summary judgment contending that these drivers are independent contractors rather than employees, governed by common law principles. The Judicial Panel for the Multidistrict Litigation ruled in favor of FedEx. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that the Plaintiffs were considered employees as a matter of law. The panel based this judgment on the right-to-control test. Under this test an employment relationship can be found where “the person to whom service is rendered has the right to control the manner and means of accomplishing the result desired.” Additionally, the panel also examined that based on secondary factors nothing sufficiently showed that the plaintiffs were, in fact, independent contractors. Accordingly, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to FedEx, the panel held that the plaintiffs were employees. REVERSED and REMANDED

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