California District Court Rejects Truck Drivers’ Minimum Wage Claims, Citing Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act

This month the United States District Court, located in Southern California, ruled in favor of J.B. Hunt Transportation and against employees suing under California Wage and Hour laws. J.B. Hunt’s employee drivers had claimed their pay — which is based on miles driven and completed deliveries — does not cover job-related activities like loading, unloading and waiting for customers. The drivers believed they were entitled to be paid under California minimum wage law, based on hours of work.

J.B. Hunt argued its pay is not only adequate but that the drivers’ claims would result in “exactly the kind of state regulatory interference in the market that Congress intended to preempt” when it enacted the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (“FAAAA”). To hold the FAAAA exemption does not apply would subject transportation companies like J.B. Hunt, who otherwise qualify for the FAAAA exemption, to the extensive requirements of the California Wage laws — and be prohibitively costly to employers.

The Court agreed with J.B. Hunt and held that the FAAAA preempted application of California’s wage laws to J.B. Hunt’s employee drivers.

Chauvel & Glatt is counsel for the appellant in a similar case, entitled Godfrey, et. al. vs. Oakland Port Services Corp. The case also deals with the issue of whether the FAAAA preempts California’s wage laws.  Chauvel & Glatt is arguing in favoring of FAAAA preemption.  The Godfrey case is fully briefed and awaits a date for an oral argument before the California Court of Appeal.

The California Courts have several similar cases before them on this very issue. Chauvel & Glatt is keeping a close watch on how the ninth circuit will rule on this exemption. To learn more about this ruling, click here.

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