Court: Company’s pay system violates California reg

Jill Dunn | July 24, 2011

A U.S. district court has ruled a piece-rate pay formula that did not fully compensate drivers for the total time they worked violated California law.

Judge David Carter for California’s Central District granted 39 former and current drivers’ motion for summary judgment on the formula on July 8. This judgment is proper when key facts are undisputed and the party requesting it is legally entitled to it.

The plaintiffs allege McLane Food Service Inc., a motor carrier, by and through its parent company McLane Co., had policies depriving the drivers of their statutory rights to full compensation for time worked and meal and rest breaks.

It is not clear if McLane will appeal. The company did not respond to a request for comment on July 22.

Regardless if MFI told plaintiffs the piece-rate formula was intended to compensate for pre-and- post-shift duties, “the fact that it did not separately compensate for those duties violates California law,” Carter wrote. The order noted a 2005 a California appeals court ruling that the state’s legislative intent was to give greater protection to California minimum wage laws than federal minimum wage laws.

McLane’s piece-rate pay formula used to pay drivers per route consisted of the number of cases of product delivered, miles driven and the number of deliveries. It required that pre-shift, drivers had to complete vehicle safety checks, pick up keys and manifests, while post-shift duties included vehicle inspections and completing paperwork.