Liz Swain 9:30 a.m., May 29
Carrier suit against U-T begins tomorrow
Carriers say they were misclassified as independent contractors
Preliminary matters in the case of newspaper carriers suing the Union-Tribune begin tomorrow (May 24) in the Superior Court department of Judge John S. Meyer. Persons who signed contracts with the U-T as home delivery carriers beginning in 2005 say they were illegally classified as independent contractors. Alleging violations of various Labor Code provisions, they seek, among several things, unpaid regular and overtime pay, unpaid rest break and meal period compensation, and reimbursement of expenses, including mileage. Former owners Copley Press and Platinum Equity are named along with the San Diego Union-Tribune LLC. The carriers say they were required to provide their own vehicles, and therefore incurred losses, and that the U-T routinely made deductions from paychecks for complaints they received for damaged and wet papers, and the like. For these reasons and many others, the U-T was actually the employer, and the carriers were not independent contractors under California law, they charge.
The suit might not be small change. The law firm filing it, Callahan & Blaine of Santa Ana, earlier sued the Orange County Register for similar reasons. There was a $38 million settlement, but the parent company, Freedom Communications, filed for bankruptcy. Eventually, the case was settled for $30 million.
Another suit has been filed against the U-T. One George Ronis on May 17 brought what he hopes to be a class action suit against the media company. Ronis claims that he made a cell phone call to the U-T. After he revealed what he says was sensitive financial information, he asked if the call was being recorded and was told it was. He wants damages and injunctive relief.
More like this:
- Supreme Court rules in favor of carriers — June 30, 2014
- Union-Tribune loses suit to carriers — Jan. 22, 2014
- U-T must pay former carriers $3.18 million, will appeal — June 19, 2013
- Carriers' U-T Case Certified as Class Action — Sept. 27, 2011
- Police Sorry They Brought Frivolous Lawsuits, Suing Their Lawyer — Dec. 17, 2010