Transportation L&E

On The Move provides streamlined quarterly updates on legal developments in labor and employment in the ground transportation and logistics industries.  If you would like to learn more about any of the items reported here, including copies of the court rulings, please contact us. 

On The Move Update – Fall 2016 

Carrier’s failure to keep records of hours worked doomed defense against claim for overtime pay.  The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a jury’s verdict against Native Oilfield Services, LLC, including the award of $1.6 million in unpaid overtime, $1.6 million in liquidated damages, and $382,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs.  The court noted that the employer’s failure to keep proper time records, or otherwise substantially defeat the drivers’ claims that they worked an average of 18 hours of overtime per week, defeated their appeal.  (Olibas v. Barclay, 9/20/16.)

ADHD bus mechanic deprived use of Adderall at work can take claims to trial.  A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled last month that a mechanic’s claims of disability discrimination survived summary judgment, where the evidence suggested the accidents for which he was fired occurred during a time when his employer prohibited him from taking Adderall for his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The employer mistakenly believed, apparently, that the mechanic’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) prohibited him from taking the drug. (McFadden v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 9/2/16.)

Motor Carrier Act exempts drivers from overtime, but not minimum wage claims.  Shuttle bus drivers for airports were not entitled to overtime pay under the Motor Carrier Act exemption, a federal court in New York ruled.  However, the exemption does not apply to claims for minimum wage violations, and therefore such claims could survive the employers’ motion to dismiss those claims. (Serebryako v. Loreko Inc., 9/16/16.)

Hispanic truck driver’s bias suit survives. A Hispanic truck driver who was the only driver fired in a reduction in force could make out a national origin discrimination claim based on alleged offensive comments by a supervisor about Mexicans and Hispanics and the fact that the driver had greater experience than the white drivers retained.  (Pineda v. Byrne Diary, Inc., 8/31/16.)

Roadmaster Transportation Agrees to Pay Prevailing Wages, $971,155 to 99 drivers.  The U.S. Department of Labor obtained an agreement from Roadmaster Transportation Inc. of Stone Mountain, Ga., to pay 99 drivers $971,155 in back wages and fringe benefits in response to a DOL investigation that found the company failed to pay prevailing wage rates and benefits to workers on a U.S. Postal Service contract.

NFI has agreed to pay $1,072,061 in back wages due to worker misclassification.  The U.S. Department of Labor wage and hour investigation found National Freight Inc., based in Cherry Hill, N.J., wrongfully classified dispatchers and yard spotters as exempt from overtime pay requirements, according to a DOL release in late August.  NFI is also required to engage in other corrective activities to ensure compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) going forward.

Drivers “worksite” can be terminal as opposed to home base under FMLA, a federal court in Kansas has ruled.  Although the driver began each workday driving a route from his home in Kansas City, the fact that his route always ended at a terminal in St. Louis, and his supervisor was the terminal manager in St. Louis, were enough to show that his employment was linked more directly with the St. Louis location in order to determine the 50-employee worksite threshold under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the court ruled. (Eckert v. Super Van Services Co., Inc., 8/22/16.)

Wal-Mart truck drivers’ minimum wage claim in California was not preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, a federal district court in California held in late August. Although one federal district court has held otherwise, two 9th Circuit decisions relating to truck drivers applied and controlled, the court held.  (Ridgeway v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 8/30/16.)

Driver who refused to pull trailer with frozen brakes engaged in protected conduct when he disconnected the trailer and drove away in his truck to get relief from extreme weather, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in August.  The employer, TransAm Trucking, Inc., terminated the driver for violating a direct order to stay with the trailer or drag it to a place where he could seek warmth from sub-zero temperatures that were impairing the driver’s health.  (TransAm Trucking, Inc. v. Administrative Review Board, U.S. Department of Labor, 8/8/16.)

Truckers moving goods 5 miles between brewery and its warehouse were exempt from FLSA, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.  Specifically, the movement of hops, pallets, empty kegs and other materials constituted interstate commerce under the Motor Carrier exemption, the court ruled. While the goods were temporarily stored in the warehouse, many originated in other states and therefore their delivery to the brewery was covered as interstate commerce.  (Deherrera v. Decker Truck Line, Inc., 4/21/16.)

NFI paid $180,000 to end an EEOC lawsuit asserting race and national origin discrimination claims at Bolingbrook, Ill., facility.  The EEOC alleged managers used racially discriminatory language in the workplace.  The company agreed to take proactive steps to maintain a work environment free of harassment, including training for human resources personnel and management, and to pay five employees who were victims of the alleged harassment. (EEOC v. NFI Interactive Logistics, LLC.)

Flaster Greenberg regularly advises clients on transportation industry labor and employment issues, litigation and compliance. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns about these issues.

Michael Homans practices labor and employment law at Flaster Greenberg in Philadelphia and New Jersey. He can be reached at 215.279.9379 or at michael.homans@flastergreenberg.com

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