Sterling Express Port Driver Successfully Strikes Former Employer’s Effort to Chill His Workplace Rights
Last week, Johel Climaco Valencia, a port truck driver, successfully concluded his efforts to strike a lawsuit filed against him by his former employer, Sterling Express Services, Inc.
Mr. Valencia and two of his former colleagues prevailed in their legal claims before the state Labor Commissioner, in part by demonstrating that they were misclassified as independent contractors when they were in fact employees under the law. Sterling Express appealed all three decisions and filed lawsuits shortly thereafter, alleging that because they agreed to be independent contractors, the drivers breached their contract with the company by filing claims that assert employee status.
On behalf of driver Johel Climaco Valencia, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy filed a motion asking the court to strike Sterling Express’ lawsuit based on California’s anti-SLAPP (“Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation”) law. The anti-SLAPP law prohibits lawsuits that target people who exercise their rights; this offers protection to low-wage workers like Mr. Valencia who file wage claims.
Superior Court Judge William P. Barry granted Mr. Valencia’s motion to strike this past June, along with the separate motions to strike from his two former colleagues, Elmer Montoya and Jose Vazquez. The firm Rosen Saba, LLP represented Mr. Montoya and Mr. Vazquez.
Sterling Express then appealed the court’s decision to strike their lawsuit against Mr. Valencia, but the state appellate court dismissed the appeal on November 10, and the decision became final on December 10, 2015.
For more information, please contact Jean Choi at (650)-303-1654.