The Third Circuit Rules Some Commercial Trucking Employees Are Entitled to Overtime Pay
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Under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") an employer is required to pay overtime to an employee in an amount equal to one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate for any hours worked in excess of forty hours per week. However, the rule is subject to numerous exemptions identified in the FLSA. One such exemption, known as the Motor Carrier Act Exemption, states that an employer is not required to pay overtime to employees whose hours are dictated by the Secretary of Transportation. In those cases, the Secretary of Transportation, in setting out rules regarding qualifications and maximum hours of service, trumps the FLSA. The Motor Carrier Act Exemption therefore prevents many commercial truck drivers from receiving overtime under the FLSA.
Recently, in McMaster v. Eastern Armored Services, Inc., the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ("Third Circuit") held that some commercial trucking employees are entitled to overtime under the FLSA as a result of the SAFETEA-LU Corrections Act of 2008 ("Corrections Act"), which created an exception to the Motor Carrier Act Exemption. In that regard, the Corrections Act specifically provides that notwithstanding the Motor Carrier Act Exemption, the overtime requirement of the FLSA applies to a "covered employee" under the act. A "covered employee" for purposes of the Corrections Act is an individual employed by a motor carrier or motor private carrier, whose work is defined as that of a driver, driver’s helper, loader or mechanic and whose work is defined as affecting the safety of operation of motor vehicles that weigh less than 10,000 pounds, along with individuals who perform duties on motor vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less.