Photo: United States Department of Labor
If you like to shop at Parts Authority, maybe consider finding another place to spend your money. The Department of Labor recently announced that it has obtained a judgment ordering Parts Authority Arizona and Arizona Logistics (operating jointly as Diligent Delivery Systems) to pay back wages and damages after they misclassified 1,398 drivers as independent contractors.
In addition to $2.8 million in back pay, the court order also requires the companies to pay an additional $2.8 million in damages to the employees who were wrongly treated as contractors. Additionally, Larry Browne, owner of Parts Authority and Diligent Delivery Systems, was ordered to pay a $150,000 fine. Going forward, Parts Authority will also be required to treat its delivery drivers as employees.
“Employers cannot avoid their obligations to pay the minimum wage and overtime through contracting with another entity to obtain employees,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda in a statement. “The U.S. Department of Labor will combat misclassification schemes and wage theft through pursuing all the employers that are responsible for depriving employees of their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act.”
The labor department’s Wage and Hour Division didn’t simply find that these delivery drivers were wrongly treated as independent contractors. It also found that Parts Authority “failed to meet minimum wage requirements, paid straight-time rates for all hours worked, failed to pay at time and a half for hours over 40 in a workweek, and failed to keep required timekeeping records. The company also required employees to use their personal vehicles for deliveries without compensation.”
Yeah, that’s not good. The Fair Labor Standards Act exists for a reason, and telling employees they are independent contractors when they aren’t isn’t some magic money-saving loophole for things like minimum wage and overtime laws. Thankfully, at least in this particular instance, Parts Authority will face some actual consequences.
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“Parts Authority, Diligent Delivery Systems and Larry Browne misclassified nearly 1,400 delivery drivers as independent contractors, denying them of their rights to minimum wage, overtime pay and other benefits and protections,” said Principal Deputy Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman. “We will continue to identify and address misclassification that not only hurts the workers who are deprived of their wages, but also puts responsible employers at a competitive disadvantage.”
If you believe you or someone you know may be owed back wages, the Department of Labor has a search tool that can help you figure out what you’re owed. It also offers a downloadable app for tracking your hours. And if you’re an employer, just pay your employees what they’re owed. Even if you do manage to get away with wage theft, that’s nothing to be proud of. It just makes you a shitty person.