Tuesday, October 25, 2011 by
On October 19, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California issued an order granting Penske Logistics, LLC (“Penske”) summary judgment on claims that Penske had violated California’s meal and rest break laws, which mandate that employers provide a 30-minute meal period to employees for every 5 hours worked and a 10-minute rest period for every 4 hours worked. Plaintiffs, former Penske drivers and installers, brought a class action against Penske seeking, among other relief, to recover wages for missed meal and rest breaks they claim Penske prevented them from taking.
Jim Hanson of the firm argued on behalf of Penske that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act preempted the application of California’s meal and rest break laws to Penske’s operations. When Congress enacted the FAAA Act in 1994, Congress found that State regulation of intrastate trucking imposes an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce and thus prohibited the States from enacting or enforcing laws “related to a price, route or service of” any property-carrying motor carriers. Penske demonstrated that complying with the strictures of California’s meal and rest break rules would have impermissibly forced its drivers to “take shorter or fewer routes” in order to ensure that the drivers had “adequate locations” to stop and take the mandated breaks. Penske also demonstrated that the impact of ensuring that every employee took the proscribed breaks at the time required by the statutes, “would require one or two less deliveries per day per driver.”
The Court agreed with Penske’s analysis and found that the FAAA Act preempted California’s meal and rest break laws. Specifically, the Court found that the “length and timing of meal and rest breaks . . . directly and significantly relate to . . . the frequency and scheduling of transportation” and that complying with California’s laws would limit the number of deliveries Penske drivers could make and the routes they could take to make those deliveries.
The Court rejected Plaintiffs’ argument that, because they were only seeking wages as a result of missed breaks, the meal and rest break laws were tantamount to wage laws that should not be preempted. In doing so, the Court noted that it is not the impact of the monetary award on Penske’s operations that preempts the statutes, but “[r]ather, the impact is derived from the imposition of substantive restrictions upon the breaks taken by [Penske’s] drivers and drivers’ helpers, which binds [Penske] to a set of routes, services, schedules, origins, and destinations that it would otherwise not be bound to.” This, the Court found, was the “kind of interference Congress sought to avoid with the preemption clause that specifically prohibits state regulation related to prices, routes, and service.”
Penske’s victory, which is the first of its kind declaring the California meal and rest break rules preempted as applied to motor carriers, should afford truckers operating in California critically important relief. While this unprecedented decision will almost certainly be appealed, we expect the Penske decision to be cited in courts throughout California as persuasive authority in support of the trucking industry’s position on this important issue. The case is Dilts, et al. v. Penske Logistics, LLC, et al., Case No. 08-CV-318 JLS.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 by
Earlier this month (March), the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration ("PHMSA") issued a final rule prohibiting texting on electronic devices by drivers hauling hazardous materials. The final rule will be effective beginning March 30, 2011. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") already prohibits texting by commercial motor vehicle drivers operating in interstate commerce, but does not have jurisdiction over intrastate driving. The PHMSA enjoys authority over ALL drivers hauling hazmat so this new rule will assure both interstate and intrastate hazmat haulers are prohibited from texting while driving.
Saturday, November 20, 2010 by
Effective as of November 11, 2010, the California Highway Patrol has adopted regulations affecting motor carriers usinig equipment they do not own. The language closely mirrors the federal leasing regulations found at 49 CFR 376 ("Lease and Interchange of Vehicles" to Title 13). Under the new California regulations, all intrastate carriers using owner-operators on a non-temporary basis will have a new regulatory obligation, and CHP may now enforce the provisions of CFR 376 "Lease and Interchange of Vehicles" on interstate carriers. This includes the authority to examine lease agreements in order to determine which entity (overlying motor carrier or underlying independent contractor) is responsible for vehicle safety and maintenance during BIT inspections.
Note that while they are effective now, subsection (g) of the regulations provides for a transition period:
“For those business entities which have engaged in some sort of vehicle leasing relationship enacted prior to the filing of these regulations, the terms of these regulations will be met no later than June 30, 2011.”
Cal. Admin. Code Tit. 13, § 1235.7(g) (Westlaw 2010).
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 by
On Friday, June 4, Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed House Bill 1271, which increases the permitted truckload for tractor-trailers traveling on designated routes on intrastate highways. The permitted truckload is increased from 80,000 to 88,000 pounds; however, the 80,000-pound limit still applies to interstate roads. In addition, trucks equipped with auxiliary power units (APUs) are allowed to run 400 pounds over the weight limit. Currently, the penalty for overweight truckloads is a 5% fine for every pound over the limit.
Crist also vetoed a provision in another transportation bill that would have authorized the reallocation of $160 million from the State Transportation Fund to the state budget in order to help cover the deficit.