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Trucker misclassification suit continues in Allegheny County

Two truck drivers are able to continue to pursue their class action lawsuit in Allegheny County Court against their former employer. The lawsuit was brought by two drivers who say that they are a part of a larger group of drivers who were wrongfully misclassified as independent contractors by their employer so that they employer could take illegal deductions from their paychecks. A recent hearing has allowed the case to continue after the defendant filed several different motions to attempt to have the case dismissed.

The most recent hearing dealt with procedural issues in the case, including whether a clause in the trucker's contract was effective in requiring the suit to be brought in an Ohio state court. The judge denied the motion to remove the case to the other state court, saying that the plaintiffs in this case have the right to benefit from the expedient process available to them in their home state through the local magisterial district court.

This issue might seem inconsequential to the average reader, but experienced attorneys know that the court where the case is heard and the laws that are applied there are very impactful in a case like this one. In addition to considerations such as which state has better protections for employees, the convenience of the local court for the wrong employees is also important and can influence their ability to successfully pursue the case.

Although the contract that the truck drivers signed was binding, the court decided that the court selection clause could not be enforced because the drivers did not specifically opt into it, but rather accepted it as a minor term as a part of a large contract which they did not individually negotiate.

As a result of these decisions, the case will proceed in Allegheny County and the truck drivers will be able to seek an appropriate judgment and remedy under Pennsylvania law.

Source: Legal Intelligencer, "Truckers' class action to proceed in Pa." Zack Needles, March 4, 2013.

Information about employee rights when an employer has cheated on classification is available on our wage, hour, and overtime page.

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