Port drivers awarded $6M following unprecedented wage theft decision

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Twenty-four California port truck drivers employed by NFI Industries/California Cartage, the largest goods movement operator at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, have been awarded nearly $6 million by the California Labor Commissioner for wage theft due to misclassification as independent contractors.

In an unprecedented decision, the labor commissioner issued individual joint liability against the general manager at NFI’s California Cartage Express who oversaw and directed the day-to-day work of the drivers at that company.

These cases mark the first time that the individual liability provision of California Senate Bill 588 (Labor Code Section 558.1) has been applied in port trucking.

SB 588, among other things, ‚Äúreduces the abuse of our corporate laws. Businesses can no longer use layers of subcontracts and unclear reporting relationships to deliberately make enforcing labor laws difficult. Additionally, individuals involved in wage theft will now be held accountable.‚ÄĚ Source: UCLA Labor Center, Oct. 13, 2015.

According to Justice for Port Drivers, California is leading the way on ending wage theft through misclassification.

‚ÄúSB 588 holds the boss accountable, and SB 1402 holds the customers accountable,‚ÄĚ Justice for Port Drivers writes in their press release. ‚ÄúFurther, the Los Angeles City Attorney has sued three NFI/Cal Cartage companies for wage theft and unfair competition, and the Los Angeles City Council overrode the LA Harbor Commission by refusing to give a lease to NFI on property owned by the Port of Los Angeles due to strikes and disruption caused by workers protesting their misclassification (as of this release, the company is continuing to operate without a lease on port property).‚ÄĚ

NFI/California Cartage, based in Wilmington, Calif., is one of the largest goods movement companies in the nation, with warehouses and port trucking operations across the U.S.  In 2018, the California Cartage family of companies was acquired by the New Jersey-based National Freight Industries (NFI). NFI/Cal Cartage represents the largest trucking operation at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.