The recent Decision in Ridgeway v. Wal-Mart covers critical pay issues for California carriers. Wal-Mart paid its drivers based on mileage, activity pay and non-activity pay as defined in its Driver Pay Manuals. The drivers claimed they were not paid for various work time including pre- and post-trip inspections, waiting time, fuel and washing time, layovers and other non-driving time.
Any carrier that pays California drivers on a system other than hourly pay should have already refined their pay policies to conform with recent case and statutory law holding that Piece Rate compensation (defined as any pay method other than hourly pay) only compensates for driving time. If you have a Piece Rate pay system you need to separately pay for non-productive time, pre- and post-trip inspections and rest breaks, among other things.
In finding in favor of some of the driver claims, the Ridgeway court relied on language in Wal-Mart’s own policy manuals. The court was not persuaded by Wal-Mart’s claim that its actual pay practices differed from those described in its policy manuals. The lesson here is to (1) make sure you have accurate policy manuals that reflect how drivers are paid, (2) review those manuals regularly to make sure they are amended to conform with (a) changes in the law, and (b) your actual pay methods.
The court also found that drivers, or any workers, must be compensated for all time where they are required to or may perform any work-related functions. Wal-Mart’s drivers, according to the policy manuals, had to sleep in their cabs during layovers. Thus, the court found they were not relived of all work-related duties. Similarly, if drivers are required to answer phone calls during layovers they must be paid.