In an electrifying development, over 660 package delivery drivers are on the cusp of a legal victory, as they and their employer implore a New Jersey federal judge to finalize a colossal $950,000 settlement. This agreement aims to rectify claims that the company, American Eagle Express Inc., wrongly labeled drivers as independent contractors and unjustly cut their wages. The proposition of this substantial sum signals a potential watershed moment for low-income workers.
Delivery Workers Seek Approval Of $950K Wage Deal: The Road to Resolution
Ever Bedoya, Diego Gonzales, and Manuel DeCastro, champions of the workforce, spearhead the call for the final nod on this historic deal. The case, a narrative of endurance and resilience, spans nearly a decade of legal battles, even reaching the venerable halls of the U.S. Supreme Court. The saga’s latest chapter unfolded on Wednesday, with a motion for ultimate approval of the settlement, which U.S. District Judge Esther Salas had preliminarily deemed fair back in August. A final hearing to seal this pact is slated for December 7.
Unpacking the Settlement
In a meticulous allocation of the settlement pie, $551,730 is earmarked for the class members. Meanwhile, the three plaintiff pioneers are set to receive incentive payments of $15,000 each. Legal champions of the class will be compensated with $333,270, and $20,000 is allocated for settlement administration costs. This financial blueprint underscores the significant monetary relief poised to reach the hands of over 50 class members, each standing to gain in excess of $4,000.
Delivery Workers Seek Approval Of $950K Wage Deal: The Heart of the Matter
This class, certified by Judge Salas in August 2022, consists of 663 drivers who contend they bore the brunt of unjust business expenses and misclassification. Since the preliminary nod in August, not a single class member has raised an objection to the terms of the settlement. A noteworthy 32% of the class has already stepped forward to claim their share of the settlement, with provisions to accept late claims until the final hearing.
A Journey Through the Courts
The dispute, initiated in 2014, revolves around allegations of violating New Jersey’s Wage Payment and Wage and Hour Laws by misclassifying drivers, docking wages, and denying overtime. The legal odyssey saw AEX’s initial defeat in November 2016, a decision upheld by the Third Circuit in January 2019. The Supreme Court, in a pivotal move, declined to intervene in October 2019.