Calif. AG Sues Three Trucking Companies

California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. is suing three trucking companies operating at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles he says deny their workers benefits and protections entitled to them under state workers’ compensation and disability laws.

“These companies take advantage of their workers by failing to provide them with state-mandated protections and benefits,” Brown said. “Truck drivers at the ports work long hours under tough conditions. By unlawfully classifying workers as ‘independent contractors,’ these companies deny their employees important worker protections.”

The three lawsuits follow two similar lawsuits filed in September and are part of the attorney general’s ongoing crackdown on trucking companies operating at California’s ports that deliberately misclassify workers to gain an unfair competitive advantage. Moreno Trucking, owned by Noel A. Moreno and his wife Emma R. Moreno, Guasimal Trucking, and Edmund Jose Lira are accused of employing cost-cutting schemes to avoid California taxes.

The three trucking companies allegedly misrepresent their workers as independent contractors to avoid paying state-mandated workers’ compensation and other disability benefits. Under their working conditions, the employees should have employee status and its legal protections and benefits. The companies control all aspects of the drivers’ work and own and maintain the trucks that the workers drive. Drivers are paid by the hour and often forced to work 60 hours or more a week, Brown stated.

Beginning in February 2008, the attorney general authorized a task force to investigate trucking companies at Long Beach and Los Angeles Ports. The investigation uncovered numerous state labor law violations committed by several trucking companies operating at the ports.

The lawsuits allege that the trucking companies named in the suits have an unfair advantage over their competitors in violation of California Business and Professions Code 17200 by depriving employees of benefits and protections entitled to them under California law. These companies also are cheating the California out of thousands of dollars in state payroll taxes, the attorney general stated.

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