Alexander v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc., 2014 WL 4211107 (9th Cir. 2014)

In this class action the named plaintiffs represent approximately 2,300 individuals who were full-time delivery drivers for FedEx in California between 2000 and 2007.  FedEx characterizes its drivers as independent contractors in its Operating Agreement.  Similar cases to this one were filed in approximately 40 states, and the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated these cases for multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) in the District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. The MDL Court certified a class for plaintiffs’ claims under California law and subsequently granted FedEx’s motions for summary judgment, holding that plaintiffs were independent contractors as a matter of law in each state (including California) where employment status is governed by common-law agency principles.  In this opinion, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the summary judgment that was granted to FedEx and ordered, instead, that summary judgment be entered in favor of plaintiffs.  The Court based its decision on the ground that the “Operating Agreement grants FedEx a broad right to control the manner in which its drivers perform their work.  The most important factor of the right-to-control test thus strongly favors employee status.”