5:00 p.m. A Superior Court judge declined to issue a ruling Tuesday as to whether or not legal waivers signed by the truckers are valid. Plaintiffs' attorney Sanjukta Paul said they were given 30 days to file an amended complaint. She said it's possible the validity of the legal waivers may not be decided until trial.
On Tuesday, a Superior Court judge may decide if a group of port truck drivers can participate in a class-action lawsuit against a Gardena-based trucking company.
A year ago, several truck drivers who work out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach hauling cargo filed a lawsuit against the trucking company QTS, Inc. and related entities. They alleged they were deprived of fair wages and benefits because the company misclassified them as independent contractors, although they worked full-time with no control over their hours.
Plaintiffs' attorney Sanjukta Paul said that after the lawsuit was filed, the company had truckers who were not part of the class-action sign legal waivers that precluded them from participating. She said these drivers, many of them first-generation Latino and Korean immigrants, were misled into signing the waivers.
"They are being subjected to outright lies in terms of these waivers of all their legal claims that the company has had a number of its current workers sign since the time of the filing of our lawsuit," Paul said. "Literally the next month, they instituted this practice."
Paul says some truckers were told they needed to sign the forms in order to keep working, or to have their trucks repaired. Many of them aren't proficient in English, she said, and are already accustomed to signing forms as part of their work routine.
Tuesday's hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court is to determine if the waivers are valid, and if the truckers in question can participate in the class-action lawsuit. The complaint alleges unlawful wage deductions and other practices that cost drivers earnings, in some cases leading them to take home below minimum wage.
An attorney for QTS who was reached by phone declined to comment on the case. Although several companies are named in the lawsuit, the complaint alleges that the companies are all managed "as a single enterprise and/or alter egos of one another."