The First Circuit Court of Appeals has made clear that transportation companies cannot force their workers to arbitrate when they would not otherwise have to, simply by (mis)classifying them as independent contractors.
In a case called Romero v. Department Stores National Bank, for example, a consumer received literally hundreds of robocalls from the banks that issue Macy’s-branded credit cards, despite the fact that she repeatedly told them to stop calling her. The consumer sued the banks for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act—a statute that prohibits unwanted robocalls to cell phones. But the trial court held that the consumer lacked standing to bring her lawsuit.
In a speech in Toledo, Ohio, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for an end to forced arbitration clauses that are increasingly used by corporations to keep consumers, and workers, out of court.
Dominic Oliveira is a long-haul truck driver. For a while, he worked for Prime, Inc.—which, according to its website, is the “most successful refrigerated, flatbed, tanker, and intermodal trucking company” in North America. You’d think that drivers for the “most successful” shipping company of its kind would get paid pretty well. But it turns out, not so much. Though Dominic drove thousands of miles a week, he often earned less than minimum wage. Some weeks, his paycheck was actually less than zero.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit announced that TransUnion – one of the three big credit reporting agencies and one of the most powerful corporations in America – went too far in trying to slip an arbitration clause past consumers in a way they wouldn’t notice.