The Road Ahead for California Transportation Industry Employers
The 9th Circuit Rules FAA Authorization Act Does Not Preempt State Meal and Rest Break Laws
On July 9, 2014, in Dilts v. Penske Logistics, Inc. the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that, for motor carrier employers, California’s meal and rest break laws are not preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (“FAAAA”).
Up until this ruling, motor carrier employers tried to argue they need not comply with California’s meal and rest break rules, as those rules had an impermissible negative impact on “prices, routes and services” and therefore, those laws were preempted by federal law under the FAAAA.
Defendants in Dilts argued compliance with California’s meal and rest break laws would force drivers to deviate from routes and would result in a cessation of delivery services throughout the day. This could cause longer delivery times and greater costs to employers. However, the Ninth Circuit was unpersuaded.
The Ruling’s Impact on California Employers
So what does this mean for certain motor carriers in the transportation industry?
Generally, under California law an employer must provide a duty free meal break of 30 minutes for nonexempt employees who work more than five hours and a second 30 minute duty free meal break for those who work more than 10 hours. If a nonexempt employee’s total daily work time is at least 3.5 hours, employers must also provide a paid rest period of 10 minutes for every four hours or major fraction thereof.
Based on this decision, motor carrier employers may have to:
- Hire more drivers,
- Stagger employee break times,
- Reallocate resources to maintain a particular service level,
- Allow drivers to make minor deviations from their routes, and
- Make other changes to ensure compliance with California’s meal and rest break rules.
A failure to do so may result in substantial penalties and is expected to result in more class actions on this issue.
Sue M. Bendavid and Hannah Sweiss are Wage and Hour Defense Attorneys at our Firm. Contact them directly: firstname.lastname@example.org or 818.907.3220; email@example.com or 818.907.3260, for more information.