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Employee/Independent Contractor- Misclassification & the Federal Arbitration Act

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Aubrey Allen Smith

Aubrey Allen Smith

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With us tonight is professional driver Dominic Oliveira and attorney Jennifer Bennett.  We will be discussing a case, Oliveira v. New Prime, Inc, that has been heard by the US Supreme Court and is waiting decision.
Depending on the outcome, this case could set an industry precedent for employers and owner operators

It is common for many trucking companies to classify employees as Independent Contractors.
These Independent Contractors pay for all expenses for the truck and many times end up owing the company money at the end of the week. They are under the control of the company and dispatch, thus really employees.

In March 2015, Dominic filed a lawsuit against Prime on behalf of himself and thousands of current and former Prime drivers who have been misclassified as independent contractors.

New Prime attempted to force Dominic into arbitration with the company, basing their argument on the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925, which requires those who signed an arbitration clause in their contract to enter arbitration rather than go to court.
Exemptions of arbitration in the FAA ".. excluding contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce"
This brings up 2 issues with the lawsuit

Was Dominic misclassified as Independent Contractor?
If he was an Independent Contractor, would he be exempt form forced arbitration anyway?
October 3, 2018, U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument -New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, No. 17-340. 
Read transcripts and listen to oral arguments HERE

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