Richard Reibstein, a Partner in Locke Lord’s Labor and Employment Practice in New York and co-head of the Firm’s Independent Contractor Misclassification and Compliance Practice, was quoted in Law360 on implications of the First Circuit ruling that a Massachusetts driver who independently contracted with Amazon to handle last-mile deliveries fit the definition of a transportation worker engaged in interstate commerce. Such workers cannot be compelled to arbitrate under the federal arbitration law. Reibstein said while some industry observers will likely view the First Circuit's decision as momentous, it really isn't. He noted, "On the one hand, the decision expands the federal arbitration exclusion for interstate transportation workers by precluding arbitration for drivers who make 'last mile' deliveries of goods being sent across state lines — even when 'last mile' drivers do not themselves cross state lines. Yet on the other hand, the First Circuit acknowledges that state arbitration laws, which typically cover all types of workers, including those in interstate commerce, still apply to those workers despite the federal exclusion.”
Reibstein further clarified that the First Circuit decision involves only Massachusetts and doesn't limit a company's use of arbitration provisions with class action waivers in its contracts with independent contractors who live or work in other states.
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