A federal appeals court ruled that drivers are entitled to paid meal breaks and rest periods, regardless of a previous federal deregulation exempting trucking companies from the requirement.
Since Congress adopted the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization act of 1994 (FAAAA), which cancels out state laws requiring employers to pay workers for scheduled breaks (10 minutes every four hours worked, and a 30 minute meals for every five hours), trucking companies have been in court fighting for the continuation of this regulation.
Until last week, they’ve had mostly victories, as federal courts in California go back and forth with the decision. Eight federal courts in California have found that FAAAA blocks California’s meal and rest break laws, while four others have established that it does not.
In the first appeal to hit the 9th Circuit federal court involving three truck drivers from Penske – Mickey Lee Dilts, Ray Rios and Donny Dushaj – federal judges reversed the regulation in the drivers’ favor.
The hearing was part of a class-action law suit of 349 drivers of Penske Logistics and Penske Truck Leasing Co., who all claim they often had no choice but take breaks on their own time and were frequently discouraged from taking breaks all together, even during intensive 10-hour shifts.
While representatives from Penke argued that adhering to state paid break laws increases costs of doing business and it’s services, the court pointed out that the 1994 deregulation law applied only to those state laws that are “related to” pricing, or that require or ban certain routs or services. California’s meal and break laws do none of those things.
The regulation allows continuation of general business activity, but for now upholds the 9th Circuit federal court hearing that states must comply with state laws calling for paid meal and rest breaks – normal rules for almost any company doing business in the state of California.
The case will go back to San Diego and reviewed by a U.S district judge. For now, it’s being considered a victory in the consideration of workers’ rights.