Anfinson v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc.Annotate this Case
This case concerned the classification of workers as employees or independent contractors for purposes of the Washington Minimum Wage Act (MWA). A class of 320 former and current FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. (FedEx) delivery drivers (hereinafter Anfinson) filed suit seeking overtime wages under the MWA and reimbursement for uniform expenses under the industrial welfare act (IWA). The dispute with respect to both claims was whether the drivers were employees or independent contractors. The parties disagreed on the correct test to distinguish these categories under the MWA; FedEx argued that the common law right-to-control standard governs while Anfinson contended that the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) economic-dependence test controls. The trial court gave the jury a hybrid instruction, focusing the inquiry on FedEx's right to control in light of the economic-dependence factors. The jury determined that the drivers were independent contractors. Anfinson appealed, contending, among other things, that the jury instructions misinformed the jury about the standards for determining worker status and about the requirement that class status and evidence be "common to the class members." The Court of Appeals held that the jury instruction defining the standard for determining worker status was erroneous and prejudicial and reversed. The Court of Appeals further held that the jury instruction on the burden of proof was erroneous because it misled the jury and was prejudicial. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals in both respects.