Commercial truck drivers may not be eligible for overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
FLSA Overtime Regulations
Overtime eligibility and requirements are established and enforced under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") 29 U.S.C. 201, et seq. The FLSA applies to employees, not specifically exempt, who are: A. Engaged in commerce; or B. Engaged in the production of goods for commerce: or C. Employed in an enterprise engaged in commerce or the production of goods for commerce. 29 U.S.C. ?? 206(a)-(b), 207(a)(1).
Motor Carrier Operations Exception
An exemption arises under Section 13(b)(1) of the FLSA which provides an overtime pay exemption for motor carrier operations. This exemption applies to employees whose hours of service and qualifications are subject to regulation by the Secretary of Transportation under Title 49 of the U.S.C. See 49 U.S.C. ? 31502. The jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation ("DOT") to regulate hours of service extends to all employees whose activities affect the safety of operation of interstate motor vehicles. U.S. v. Am. Trucking Ass'n, 310 U.S. 534, 549 (1940). The exemption is based on the nature of the duties and not the proportion of time spent in performing such duties. Levinson v. Spector Motor Serv., 330 U.S. 649, 681 (1947).
Three Elements of MCA Exception
There are three basic requirements for application of the exemption under ? 13(b)(1). (a) The employee must be employed by a "motor carrier." For the purposes of the Motor Carrier Act ("MCA"), "Motor Carrier" is defined as "a person providing motor vehicle transportation for compensation." 49 U.S.C. ? 13102. (b) The employee must perform activities that directly affect the safety of operations of motor vehicles. (c) The motor vehicles involved must be used for transportation on the "public highways" in interstate or foreign commerce.
Applicable Standards for Determining Interstate Commerce
When considering whether an employer's vehicles are involved in interstate commerce, courts consider "whether the employer has the capacity to operate across state boundaries, holds itself out to potential customers as available for interstate business and actively solicits such business." Kosin v. Fredjo's Enterprises, Ltd., No. 88 C 5924, 1989 WL 13175, 4 (N.D. Ill. 1989). Employees of motor carriers engaged in the production and transportation of goods which routinely cross state lines or move to/from foreign countries, are covered by the MCA, because the nature of their employment is "engaged in commerce." 29 C.F.R. ?? 776.9 - 776.10.
Continuity of Movement Doctrine
Even if there is no reasonable expectation that an employee could be called to travel interstate, an employer's drivers may still fall under the MCA exemption if those employees haul goods in a practical continuity of movement. Walling v. Jacksonville Paper Co., 317 U.S. 564, 566-67, 572 (1943); 29 C.F.R. ? 779.114. In essence, if transportation within a single state forms part of a "practical continuity of movement" across state lines from the point of origin to the point of destination, then it is interstate commerce within the meaning of the FLSA. Walling, at 564; 29 C.F.R. ? 782.7. The transportation must be "part of a through movement, originating in or destined to a point in another state." Goldberg v. Faber Indus., Inc, 291 F.2d 232, 234 (7th Cir. 1961). The "continuity of movement" doctrine is subject to broad interpretation. In Wirtz v. Ray Smith Transport Co., 280 F. Supp. 54, 55-57 (E.D. Tex. 1968), aff'd 409 F.2d 954 (5th Cir. 1969), the MCA's coverage extended to the drivers of an intrastate hauler of petroleum products which were transported solely within one state. Although the carrier was not engaged in interstate commerce, the court held that the carrier engaged in the "production of goods for commerce" since the end products subsequently joined the flow of interstate commerce. Wirtz, at 55-57. If the end product can reasonably be expected to move in interstate commerce, then it is immaterial that the actual interstate movement is several steps removed from the actual operation involved. Id., at 55-59.
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