Legal Briefing: Contractors and Control


Sep. 2, 2014

When Fernando Ruiz was hired by Affinity Logistics Corp. as a driver, he signed an “Independent Truckman’s Agreement” and “Equipment Lease Agreement” stating that he was an independent contractor and not an employee. Ruiz and other drivers filed a class-action lawsuit against Affinity alleging they were employees and that Affinity violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and California’s wage laws. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California found that the FLSA and state wage laws did not apply to them as independent contractors and dismissed the claims.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reversed and held that “overwhelming evidence” demonstrated that Affinity “had the right to control the details of the drivers’ work [and] retained all necessary control over the drivers’ work.” Under California law, “the right to control work details is the most important or most significant consideration.” Affinity controlled drivers’ work, including pay rates, schedules, routes and use of specified equipment including the trucks, tools and mobile phones. Moreover, “Affinity’s drivers perform those very home delivery services that are the core of Affinity’s regular business.” Ruiz v. Affinity Logistics Corp., No. 12-56589 9th Cir. (June 16, 2014).

IMPACT: Employers cannot avoid an employer-employee relationship with an individual simply by calling the individual an independent contractor. The right to control work details is controlling.


blog workforce

We build robust scheduling & attendance software for businesses with 500+ frontline workers. With custom BI reporting and demand-driven scheduling, we help our customers reduce labor spend and increase profitability across their business. It's as simple as that.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog


Minimum Wage by State in 2022 – All You Need to Know

Summary The federal minimum wage rate is $7.25, but the rate is higher in 30 states, along with Washing...

federal law, minimum wage, pay rates, state law, wage law compliance

workforce blog


California’s push for a 32-hour workweek explained, and how to prepare

Summary: California is considering a 32-hour workweek bill for businesses with over 500 staff 4 day wee...

32 hour workweek, 4 day workweek, california, legislature, overtime

workforce blog


A business owner’s guide to restaurant tipping law

Business owners in the restaurant industry are in a unique position when it comes to employee tips. As ...

restaurants, tip laws, tipping