Court sides with FedEx in dispute with drivers

A federal judge in Indiana ruled Tuesday in favor of Memphis-based FedEx in the company's dispute with drivers over whether they are independent contractors.

FedEx Ground workers wanted to be considered company employees and sought reimbursement of business expenses and back pay for overtime and other wages. FedEx, which has a distribution hub in Indianapolis, has long asserted that its drivers should be classified as independent contractors.

In a 182-page decision, Judge Robert L. Miller Jr. said several factors favored independent contractor status.

The court said drivers can hire helpers and replacement drivers and are responsible for acquiring a vehicle and can use it for other commercial purposes.

The judge also said drivers can sell their routes to other drivers. Additionally, the court said FedEx doesn't have the right to terminate contracts at-will.

More than 50 lawsuits had been filed by the drivers and were consolidated into a single federal court case in South Bend.

The court Tuesday noted the bitterness involved in the case, saying "the parties have heaped numerous insults upon each other's arguments and reasoning in their various briefs."

Maury S. Lane, director of corporate communications, said FedEx is "very pleased with today's significant rulings."

FedEx has about 280,000 employees and is the world's second largest package delivery company.

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