Fedex Workers Aren’t Employees, Judge Rules. What Happens To Freelancers?

FedEx drivers have lost a series of lawsuits claiming that the drivers should be classified as employees, not contractors. Had the suits been successful, the drivers would be owed overtime, back pay, vacation, sick leave, and other damages, reports Bloomberg.

FedEx has claimed that, because it does not regulate how drivers perform their jobs, its drivers are independent contractors and thus not subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Treating drivers as contractors saves the company an estimated 30 percent over UPS’s costs.

The drivers, however, work mostly for one client, Fedex, wear company uniforms, and an attorney for the drivers argued that these and other reasons made the drivers employees.

The case may set a precedent for contractors in every industry, making it easier to be classified as a “permalancer,” or a freelance worker who works on-site for one client and puts in a full workweek, but does not receive vacation, sick leave, or unemployment insurance. These sorts of arrangements are technically against government regulations, but many permalancers, forced between choosing a poor work environment and no work environment at all, opt to work in the shadowy gray area…one that has just become more gray, in an employer’s view.