FedEX Plea to Dismiss ERISA Claim in Drivers' Class Action Suit Denied

A federal judge rebuffed Tuesday a request by FedEX lawyers to throw out the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) claim in the nationwide class action suit against the carrier by some of its drivers. who charge that the package delivery service has unlawfully denied them pension benefits.

According to a news release from the plaintiffs’ attorneys, the lawsuit was brought by Federal Express Ground/Home Delivery drivers in 30 states who claim FedEX – by classifying the drivers as independent contractors – was able to skirt paying expenses such as gas and vehicle repairs, as well as pension benefits.

Chief US District Judge Robert Miller, Jr., of the US District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, said in his opinion that FedEx unsuccessfully argued that the ERISA claim should be thrown out for several reasons, including ineligibility.

FedEx claimed that the drivers were, in fact, contractors and were not entitled to pension benefits.

“The ERISA ruling is another significant step in seeking justice for every former, current and future FedEx Ground/Home Delivery driver,” says Lynn Rossman Faris, a California- based attorney.

In December 2005, FedEx was ordered to by $5.3 million to a group of drivers after a California judge said that that carrier had broken state law by classifying all of its single-route drivers as independent contractors, which required them to pay for fuel, oil, tires, repairs and liability insurance – all expenses that the company should have picked up (SeeCourt Says FedEx Misclassified Workers as Contractors). Each of the class action members will receive payments ranging from a few hundred dollars to nearly $100,000.