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FedEx delivery drivers argue in a federal lawsuit that the package delivery company wrongly employs them as independent contractors when they should be company employees. The U.S. District Court lawsuit, which seeks to represent more than 1,000 drivers across Tennessee, is similar to lawsuits filed against FedEx in other states. It was filed by eight FedEx Ground drivers from the Memphis area, who accuse the company of classifying them as independent contractors to deny them employee benefits including overtime pay, paid vacations and health insurance. Perry Colosimo, a spokesman for FedEx Ground, said Wednesday that the business model of using contract drivers for home deliveries is sound. FedEx Ground, based in Pittsburgh, is a division of FedEx Corp., which has its corporate headquarters in Memphis. FedEx helps set up drivers as owners of their own businesses, which then contracts with FedEx Ground to deliver packages, Colosimo said. “We firmly believe they are independent business owners,” he said. The company’s employment contract drivers, he said, has been successfully defended in court and before government regulators. In the Memphis lawsuit, filed June 22, the drivers say they lack the freedom in running their businesses that independent contractors should have. The company, they contend, controls every part of their work day, from the numbers and times of deliveries to the clothes they wear. Their lawsuit says the company requires them to work a minimum number of hours each shift, “clock in and out” and buy and wear FedEx uniforms. Their contentions are similar to arguments made by FedEx drivers in recent lawsuits in South Dakota and Minnesota. Colosimo refused to say how many such suits are pending around the country. “We’ll continue to protect the rights of our independent business owners,” he said. Shares of FedEx Corp. fell 42 cents to $82.58 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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