In Ruiz v. Affinity Logistics Corp., the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that California delivery drivers were improperly classified as independent contractors under California law because the evidence established that Affinity had the right to control the drivers’ work and secondary factors supported employee status.
Affinity is a company providing home delivery services for home furnishing retailers like Sears. When Ruiz applied to become a driver for Affinity, Affinity told him that he needed to become an independent contractor, create a business name, get a business license and establish a commercial checking account. Affinity also assisted by completing the necessary forms for Ruiz, such that all he needed to do was to sign the documents. Affinity required that Ruiz paint his delivery truck white, put a Sears logo on his truck and required him to stock his truck with certain supplies. Affinity also supplied mobile phones to its drivers, required each driver to have a helper, wear a uniform and comply with grooming requirements, provided drivers with a daily route manifest of deliveries (which directed drivers on, among other things, the order of deliveries) and required drivers to attend a daily morning briefing.
Ruiz, on behalf of himself and a class of similarly situated drivers, claimed that he was wrongly classified, and as a result, was not provided sick leave, vacation, holiday and severance wages, and was improperly charged for the cost of workers’ compensation insurance coverage. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, and held that the facts overwhelmingly indicated that Affinity had the right to control all aspects of the drivers’ work, including the “color of their socks” and “the style of their hair.” The court also noted that secondary factors—including that the work did not require substantial skill, the trucks were provided by Affinity and the work performed was the core business of Affinity—weighed in favor of employee status.