In Arzate v Bridge Terminal Transport, Inc, a California Court of Appeal reversed a trial court grant of summary judgment for the employer. Truck drivers for Bridge Terminal Transport signed independent contractor agreements and later sued the company claiming they were employees and were due damages for various Labor Code violations based on the misclassification.
The Court reiterated previous California decisions holding that the determination of employee or independent contractor status is fact-intensive and reversed summary judgment holding that the case involved competing, if not necessarily conflicting, evidence that must be weighed by the trier of fact. The court held that since competing evidence existed, the trial court erred when it ruled that plaintiffs were independent contractors as a matter of law. This case makes clear that the determination of employee or independent contractor is fact-intensive and it may therefore be difficult for employers to prevail in such cases at the summary judgment stage.