Fil-Am lawyer leads $20M driver class action settlement with major trucking firm
LOS ANGELES — A Filipino American attorney led a group of lawyers that reached a multimillion-dollar settlement in a major worker misclassification class action lawsuit against one of the largest U.S. trucking firms.
Attorney C. Joe Sayas Jr. [Sayas is a columnist for INQUIRER.net US Bureau] led the litigation against XPO Logistics Inc., which has agreed to pay $20 million to 561 drivers the company misclassified as independent contractors. XPO additionally paid $1.56 million in taxes, resulting in a total company payout of $21.56 million.
The settlement is one of the highest per-worker payout in an employee misclassification case: the drivers won an average share of nearly $27,000, with the highest individual share estimated at $69,000.
XPO Logistics Inc, is a major transporter of containers to and from shipping and railway terminals hires drivers who were required to sign contracts supposedly agreeing to work as independent contractors, according to Angel Omar Alvarez, the lead plaintiff.
But XPO allegedly treated them as regular workers, controlling the days and hours they worked, their trucks and equipment, and imposing policies for drivers to follow at the risk of disciplinary action. The drivers said XPO also deducted fuel, insurance, and other business expenses from their wages, violating the Labor Code.
“Misclassification of workers as independent contractors deny them those important legal protections such as the rights to be paid for each and every hour worked, overtime, and protection against unlawful wage deductions,” Sayas said.
Originally from Cavity, Philippines, Sayas earned his legal degrees from Georgetown University Law Center and the University of the Philippines.
Sayas and his team fought for nearly four years before the U.S. Central District Court, tussling with XPO’s legal defense firms, initially DLA Piper, and later O’Melveny and Myers.
Just before a jury trial, the parties agreed to a new mediation, during which they agreed to a tentative settlement of all class claims for $20 million, plus payment of taxes.
U.S. District Court Judge Klausner on Jan. 10, 2022 granted final approval of the settlement. The court-appointed class administrator has begun distribution of the payouts this month.