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FedEx Ground/Home Delivery drivers have filed suit in the federal district court in South Bend, claiming the delivery giant fired them in retaliation for exercising their legal rights.

The California-based drivers, who operate single routes as contractors, have fought for years to obtain employment status with the company. A California appeals court recently ruled the drivers were employees entitled to company benefits. The company responded by firing more than 1,000 drivers involved in the suit. The fired drivers are suing. They claim FedEx Ground illegally retaliated against them for participating in the class action.

A word of caution: Courts are increasingly wary of employers that use independent contractors in roles employees normally occupy. Employers that exert a large amount of control over contractors and don’t allow them to work for others may have to answer to the courts, state and federal labor departments and the IRS.

For guidance, employers should refer to HR Specialist’s report, Using Independent Contractors.

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