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The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) dropped the hammer on two of NFI’s flagship drayage companies right before the New Year.  California Cartage Express (CCX) and California Multimodal (CMI) were ordered to pay nearly six million dollars to 24 drivers who filed claims for unlawful deductions, unreimbursed expenses, unpaid minimum wages, and failure to pay meal and rest breaks.  When NFI purchased CCX and CMI from Bob Curry in October 2017, the logistics giant projected its revenue to exceed two billion dollars[1].   But these most recent decisions are the latest series of multi-million dollar fines the company has had to pay for violating the rights of their employees.  The timeline of the violations ranges from the Bob Curry era well into NFI’s ownership and operation of all the companies involved.

Given the consistent stream of DLSE rulings in the face of the industry’s widespread violations, the recent DLSE decisions should not necessarily be surprising.  What stands out about these awards — and what could send a ripple throughout the trucking industry — is that the Labor Commissioner used her relatively new authority granted to the Labor Commissioner by SB588 to hold individual managers personally liable for wage theft.  In the case of CCX, the California DLSE found Jim Degraw, the general manager of Cal Cartage Express, to be “individually liable” for the labor code violations he committed, which puts Mr. Degraw on the line for his share of $6 million. The intent of SB588 was to remove the corporate shield some employers would hide behind.

Mr. Degraw had violated the minimum wage requirements and the provisions of the Industrial Welfare Commission. Therefore, Defendant Jim DeGraw is individually liable for any violations set forth herein.[2]

This decision demonstrates a new tool being used by the DLSE to hold individuals liable in order to ensure employers and managers don’t engage in wage theft. In fact, in an unrelated case, the Labor Commissioner recently found several supervisors personally liable for their role in committing wage theft[3] in the construction industry.  If the DLSE is successful any manager, supervisor, or owner – regardless of corporate rules – might have their personal property at risk of seizure by the government.

[1] NFI Enhances Supply Chain Capabilities with Acquisition of Cal Cartage, https://www.nfiindustries.com/about-nfi/news-events/nfi-enhances-supply-chain-capabilities-with-acquisition-of-calcartage/

[2] WC-CM-606912; WC-CM-606837; WC-CM-606885; WC-CM-606891; WC-CM-606918; WC-CM-606927; WC-CM-606932; WC-CM-606957; WC-CM-606855; WC-CM-606902; WC-CM-615202; WC-CM-615229; WC-CM-615094; AND WC-CM-615219; pg 59

[3] Labor Commissioner’s Office Cites RDV Construction $12 Million for Wage Theft Affecting More Than 1,000 Workers, https://www.dir.ca.gov/DIRNews/2019/2019-16.pdf

 

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