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Independent contractor or employee?

Trucking and other transportation companies have often been fined for incorrectly classifying workers as independent contractors.

You cannot use independent contractors to avoid liability. The Federal Motor Carrier Act states that any company that owns a truck permit is responsible for all accidents involving a truck with the name of the trucking company displayed on the vehicle – regardless of whether the driver is an employee or independent contractor.

If your drivers transport food or laundry, they are automatically "statutory employees". There is a federal law that says that these workers are automatically employees - no matter what. Agent drivers or commissioned drivers are defined as drivers hired to distribute meat, vegetables, fruit or bakery goods or to distribute beverages (other than milk). They also include drivers hired to pick up or deliver dry cleaning or laundry.

Truck drivers and loaders/unloaders are classified as both independent contractors and employees - it depends on the details on how they work. True independent contractors control the way they do the work, own their equipment, can hire assistants or others to do the work, can't be fired at will, and have an opportunity to make entrepreneurial profit - from you and from others. They are responsible for their own expenses and reputation. If you use independent contractors and violate any of these, you are vulnerable to fines. Click here for more information about independent contractor rules.