HOUSTON, Texas. A recent Supreme Court ruling could have set an important precedent that prevents companies from forcing truck drivers engaged in interstate commerce and other independent contractors into arbitration should an employment dispute arise.
Just recently, in New Prime Inc v. Oliveira, the Supreme Court ruled that a forced arbitration provision in a truck driver’s contract was not enforceable. When the truck driver claimed that he and his colleagues were owed back pay for unpaid wages, and filed a class action lawsuit, the trucking company claimed that the drivers would have to settle the employment law issue through arbitration. The driver disagreed and took the case to the Supreme Court, where the court found that forced arbitration settlements are not enforceable when it comes to workers labelled independent contractors. The court ruling could set an important precedent that could protect all workers who are labelled as independent contractors. However, it isn’t entirely clear whether the Supreme Court’s ruling will be interpreted narrowly to apply to trucking and transportation workers alone, or to all independent contractors who have been asked to sign forced arbitration agreements. The most important takeaway from the case is that the court ruled that forced arbitration provisions are not applicable in cases where workers perform interstate commerce. This means that oilfield workers who work across state lines and truck drivers who cross state lines are exempt from any forced arbitration agreements. This is a major victory for workers who want to fight oilfield or trucking wage violations. However, it isn’t clear whether the Supreme Court ruling will apply to oilfield workers or to truck drivers who do not cross state lines, according to CNBC.
It also isn’t entirely clear whether the Supreme Court’s ruling on forced arbitration will apply only to oilfield workers, truck drivers, and other workers engaged in interstate or foreign commerce, or whether the provision will apply to all workers labelled independent contractors. According to Business Insider, arbitration law doesn’t apply to certain types of transportation workers under the law and this is affirmed by the new Supreme Court ruling.
Going forward, when truck drivers or oilfield truck drivers who cross state lines disagree with their employer’s classifications of their work as independent contractors, companies can no longer force these workers into arbitration. Arbitration is a private process whereby individuals are forced to settle disagreements in private. The practice is often seen as favoring companies who often pay for the judges who will hear the private arbitration cases. Going forward, workers engaged in interstate commerce or transportation can now have their employment law disagreements heard in court. Business Insider notes that this is a big win for worker’s rights and for truck drivers who may be disputing wage violations or misclassification of their status as independent contractors.
Employment law attorneys who work with oilfield unpaid wages, truck drivers, and other workers who have been wrongfully labelled independent contractors are taking note. Moore & Associates are unpaid oilfield overtime and employment law attorneys in Houston, Texas who are closely watching how this Supreme Court ruling will impact future and current unpaid overtime cases.
CNBC reports that the outcome might mean higher wages for truck drivers and transportation workers. It also means that truckers and other similar workers might have more rights when it comes to making claims for unpaid wages. If you believe you were wrongfully labelled an independent contractor or believe you may be due unpaid overtime or unpaid wages, contact Moore & Associates, employment law attorneys in Houston, Texas today to learn more.
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