Workers who delivered the San Diego Union-Tribune will split a $5 million judgment against the paper’s former owner. A state judge ruled that about 1,200 carriers who worked for the paper from 2005 to 2007 were employees, not independent contractors.
As a result, the workers were entitled to reimbursement for car mileage and other expenses.
Copley Press owned the paper at that time and is on the hook for the reimbursements, plus an additional $5 million in attorneys’ fees.
This may not be the end of the litigation. Copley Press sold the paper to Platinum Equity LLC in 2009 and that company may be the next litigation target for the drivers.
This is just one of several high-profile newspaper delivery cases in the news recently. The Orange County Register settled a class-action lawsuit by its carriers for $30 million in 2012. Both the Sacramento Bee and the Fresno Bee are currently in litigation over similar issues.
Advice: Ask your attorney to review even long-standing independent contractor relationships.