DOT tells appeals court federal law does not supersede Calif.’s lunch break law

| March 07, 2014

Federal preemption does not prevent California’s meal-and-rest regulations from applying to truck drivers, the U.S. Department of Transportation told an appellate court this week.

On March 3, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Appeals Court heard the department’s assertion that federal law does not trump the state law under debate. The DOT had asked to present oral arguments after the three-judge panel ordered the agency to submit friend-of-the-court briefs on the issue. 

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The appeal consolidated two separate cases against Penske Logistics and Vitran Express. A U.S. district court had ruled the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act’s preemption provision applied to the two trucking companies in regard to California’s meal-and-break rules.

The 1994 FAAAA law stipulates state and local governments may not enact or enforce laws or provisions that have the force and effect of law concerning price, route or service of motor carriers transporting property. 

California mandates a 30-minute meal break per each five-hour work period. Employers can be required to compensate workers with one hour of pay for each violation. 

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the American Trucking Associations in long-running litigation against the Port of Los Angeles. The nation’s highest court determined the FAAAA prevented POLA from imposing placard, parking and other requirements on port trucking companies 

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Supreme Court says Port of LA can’t require placards, parking plans

The court ruled that the Port of Los Angeles can't require trucks entering the port to display special placards nor make trucking companies submit off-street parking plans for trucks not in service.

The justices disagreed with the port’s assertion its rules can be categorized under the act’s market-participant exemption. A federal appeals court previously had affirmed these exemptions, but dismissed POLA’s requirement that port companies use only truckers classified as employees, not contractors.

In testing preemption’s applicability, a state regulation is examined for a relation to price, route or service of a motor carrier. Also considered is when the law was implemented and if it is covered under safety or another exemption specified by the FAAAA.

In recent years, federal and state lawmakers have considered labor-backed measures to mitigate preemption’s applicability to trucking companies serving water or rail ports.

House and Senate versions of the Clean Port Act were referred to committee Aug. 2 after being introduced to Congress for the third time since 2010. It would remove federal preemption’s application to the price, route or service of motor carriers serving water and rail ports. 

  • Dollar

    In English please! What does this mean?

  • g

    Milk and Cookies Break?? Just what truckers need. Like Michael Jackson said….”I give them cookies..and some Warm milk”…….lol

  • g

    some crap about the Baby Sitting rules…truckers are supposed to eat a sandwhich at a certain time. They need to be told what to do all the time…lol

  • g

    The Babysitter Law?? Stop for milk and cookies drivers. Get your blanky and take a nice nap. The Old Time guys from the 50′s would really laugh at “truckers” today……what a joke.

  • Thomas Vlaskamp III

    Oh for pete’s sake… A 30 min break every 5 hours? Come on… Talk about lost productivity. I can eat driving down the road just freaking fine. And I haul diesel fuel for a living! I work 12 hours a day 7 days a week (except holidays) from 4 am to 4 pm. No where in there do I take a “rest break” because I’m a short haul driver, less than 100 AMR, and the 30 min break after 8 hours rule doesn’t apply to me.

  • Zero

    I don’t mind. It might actually force my company to take California laws seriously and pay overtime.