Swift truckers’ wage dispute ends with $7M settlement

May 5, 2022

Tyson Fisher

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Swift Transportation and thousands of truckers have reached a multimillion dollar settlement in a wage dispute.

A federal court in California is giving Swift Transportation and a class of nearly 20,000 drivers the greenlight to proceed with a settlement worth more than $7 million. The settlement puts an end to the lawsuit that was filed nearly 12 years ago.

According to court documents, Swift Transportation is agreeing to pay $7.25 million. After attorney fees and other costs, drivers will receive their share of about $4.3 million, averaging around $217.50 per class member.

The consolidated complaint applies to California Swift Transportation drivers who earned mileage based compensation from March 2006 through January 2019.

Drivers allege the carrier failed to:

  • Pay them minimum wages or agreed rates for all hours worked.
  • Provide them with duty free meal and rest periods.
  • Reimburse them for all necessary business expenditures and/or losses incurred during the discharge of their duties.
  • Pay them with instruments that were immediately payable in cash, on demand, and without discount in California.
  • Furnish them accurate itemized wage statements.
  • Timely pay them all wages due following separation of employment.

Regarding hours worked, Swift Transportation drivers claim the carrier did not compensate for all duties, including:

  • Driving miles in excess of the estimated miles for which they were paid.
  • Performing pre- and post-trip inspections.
  • Fueling vehicles.
  • Waiting for dispatch to be issued assignments via onboard computer systems.
  • Hooking and unhooking empty trailers.

Former Swift Transportation driver John Burnell got the ball rolling in 2009 when he told the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency about Swift allegedly violating state labor laws. Specifically, Burnell claimed the trucking company violated a provision that compensates employees for all expenditures and losses incurred as a direct result of their job duties. However, the agency declined to investigate the claims.

Burnell filed a class action lawsuit in state court in February 2010, which Swift Transportation had moved to a federal court. Two more drivers filed a similar complaint with the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency before joining Burnell’s lawsuit.

Approval of the wage dispute settlement comes as Congress is considering lifting the motor carrier overtime exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Over the last several years, mega carriers have inked massive settlements to end wage disputes revolving around employment classification and overtime wages.

In 2019, Swift Transportation agreed to a $100 million settlement in a class action lawsuit with nearly 20,000 truck drivers that accused the company of misclassifying them as independent contractors. LL

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Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.