in Oct 2010 i took a driving position with a local small outfit. well that place is missing a driver now. i finally had enough and left. now i need some input on how to proceed.
i know i got screwed, that is evident. i dont need any internet heros flaming me for anything, i just need to know how i can legally get my money.
when I (and every other driver) was hired, we signed a piece of paper stating that any damage done to the truck by the driver would be paid for by the driver. if you were late on a load, you pay the penalty and fail a DOT inspection you get fined 25 bucks as well. as for the damage that might be incurred, the drivers pay weekly in the amount of 50 bucks into an escrow account. when the account reaches 2500 dollars, the deductions stop unless you get a ticket or something that they claim you have to be billed.
the drivers are classified as independant contractors, and on the pay settlement sheet it says owner operator payout summary. we are all paid via 1099. yeah. one of those slimeballs.
this place is crooked. the drivers had to bay 45 a week into our own insurance policy on the truck. it was caled occupational insurance. whatever. people who are in a bind will do what ever to get rolling.
for the most part, the money was pretty good. home 3 to 4 nights a week, averaging about 900 to 1200 bucks a week, depending on how hard you ran.
with me being classified as an owner operator, that gave me the explcit right to decline any load anywhere. if i did not want to go anywhere, dont answer the phone or tell them no. and they pitched a fit when that happened.
so a week ago this past fri, (April 13th) i had been out 2 weeks and decided i was goign to stay home and dispatch out on monday morning. i had done it time and time again, no big deal. they called once in the morning and once in the evening. i go to the office on Fri the 13 to get my paycheck, and friday was the legal and defined payday. it was not in the mailbox with the other checks and the office was closed. man i was hot.
my dispatcher happened to still be there and he was like wtf you not working? well i was cornered and said well what do you need? mind you, i had been out 2 weeks. so he said there was a local pickup here at 10am sat the 14th in chattanooga that had to be in upstate NY monday the 16th at 6am. i said whatever.
now this place does not use DAC so im not worried about that. after i got home and got to thinking about how i was done with my check, it really pissed me off. i had been looking for a reason to walk, and well this was the fuel for that fire.
i sent him a message sat morning stating that they needed to get someone else to run the load as i was informing him that i was turning in my tractor. the S.O.B. told me to have it cleaned out and on the yard within 3 hours or he would call the police and report it stolen. i still have the text message where he (dispatcher) said that.
so i managed to get that done and turned the truck in at the yard. filled out a paper with the things that were done and what needed to be repaired since i had the tractor, and took extensive pictures of the truck, including the dash showing that the fuel was full and the mileage.
there was light damage to the left front fender where i had rubbed one of those yellow poles in a tight turn that hardly cracked the fender and another one where a shipper had installed a fence with 4 inches clearance on both sides with an automatic gate. they failed to trim the bolt off on the chain drive on the gate, and i caught it and it tore the step up on the passenger fuel take and cracked the plastic.
all fine and dandy, i had a ballpark of what it was going to cost and i was pretty much dead on the money.
i had a couple of tickets in the last 3 months that totaled alot of money, all non moving violations, so that had my escrow down to 1100 bucks. i had a 300 dollar overweight ticket in TN, a bridge law violation in VA and an off route ticket in ohio. that ate up some escrow money. not to mention the jerk (owner) charged me 25% extra for paying the tickets out of MY escrow.
so yesterday, the 20th, was to have been my final check. it was about 500 bucks, for one outbound and one return load. i get the check, and there isnt a thing in there. no check. just a bill for repairing the truck. they took my entire last check plus some from the escrow account to repair the truck. then they tell me i have to wait 6 weeks to get the rest of my money (escrow refund) or pay an additional 25% to get it this tuesday.
tennessee state law specifically states that you must be paid your regular wage that is owed on the next pay cycle, and all other monies due to an employee that self terminated (i did) or gets fired is due all monies within 21 days.
here i am, sitting here with 30 bucks to my name, about to start my new driving job the middle to end of this coming week and i am hurting bad.
other than going down there and causing a scene, anyone have any suggestions/ideas? i emailed the TN workforce wage dept, but they were already closed. i wont hear from them till monday at the earliest.
final paycheck withheld...........read on
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By signing those agreements to pay for damages, late loads, etc, you pretty much are out of luck.
The only option would be to file a small claims suit against them.
You would need documentation, pictures, etc, to prove your case.
Personally, I would not sign anything holding me financially liable for any job. Be careful who you work for.
There are lots of crooks in the trucking business.MNdriver Thanks this.
You are an independent contractor. That is about the same as an unsecured creditor such as the electric, water or janitorial service companies.
As such, you will likely have to sue in Superior Court, since they will argue the GROSS amount of the money being handled. (The escrow, pay, etc. totals)
This will require a lawyer.
Now each state's laws are different. I'd suggest you put all your notes together and visit a lawyer that represents clients of this type.
Yours is not a labor issue. You are not an employee. So a labor lawyer is out.
If you have all your paperwork together, you should be able to cover the outline with a lawyer within 30 minutes. Most lawyers will give you the first hour free.
They can advise you. But I suspect this could become a drawn out and expensive ordeal.
An option would be (with the lawyer's advisement) to have him send a letter to the company threatening possible legal action, etc, etc, etc.
A letter will probably cost you $200 or so.
Many companies will respond right away, once they have the letter from the lawyer. Most people won't go that far and the company knows it.
They know if you file, there is good chance you will win something and it will cost them a minimum of $2,500 to defend it, so they just pay and get it done.
Let us know how it turns out.
Go talk to the owner in person. Let him know that if you don't walk out of there with your money, in cash, then you will go straight to the IRS office and let them know about his tax evasion scheme by paying his employees via 1099. My guess is that you'll get your cash pretty quickly. The IRS won't be as nice to him as you are.chalupa Thanks this.
Sounds like bad planning. I try and keep a few thousand in case theres a emergency. company fines are legal and lots of companies have them. When I had my audit that was one thing I didn't have was a plan for driver violations and they told me I had to have some form of plan.
Lots companies escrow money too , furniture haulers escrow is held up to nine monthes or thats what my freind who's one said. As to the 1099 part
Not seeing what you signed they may have paid you accordingly.
You might go ask your former employer to expedite your escrow refund or go to the pawn shop. Anything you can do will take at least 30 days.
Good luck and plan better next time.windsmith Thanks this.
Seems like YOU worked illegally(1099) for a slimeball company, now you're complaining when they screw you, take the loss and learn from it...
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