Dolley Law, LLC

Delivery Driver Overtime Law

In Hernandez v. Alpine Logistics, LLC, 2011 WL 3800031 (W.D.N.Y August 29, 2011), a federal district court had the opportunity to analyze the SAFETEALU Technical Corrections Act of 2008. This 2008 change to the FLSA resulted in drivers, commonly delivery drivers and transport drivers, who drive trucks or vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds to be eligible for overtime compensation.

Defendant Alpine was comprised of delivery trucks that picked up and delivered packages in New York as a subcontractor of DHL. Alpine’s fleet of vehicles included two (2) vehicles with a gross weight greater than 10,000 pounds and 24 vehicles with a gross weights less than 10,000 pounds. Under the terms of their employment, any of the drivers could be required to drive any one of the vehicles regardless of weight. Alpine refused to pay overtime wages to any of its drivers.

The Hernandez case was unique because the drivers operated vehicles that weighed both less than and more than 10,000 pounds. The employer insisted that because the drivers drove some vehicles in excess of 10,000 pounds that overtime compensation was not required to be paid to the drivers. Alpine argued that because some vehicles weighed in excess of 10,000 pounds the drivers were subject to the regulations promulgated by the United States Department of Transportation and therefore such drivers were not entitled to overtime compensation. Alpine further argued that even the drivers who did not drive vehicles in excess of 10,000 pounds could be called upon to drive such vehicles at any time.

The FLSA provides in relevant part that, subject to certain enumerated exemptions, employees who work in excess of 40 hours in a workweek are entitled to compensation at a rate of one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay. 29 U.S.C. § 207. The “Motor Carrier Exemption” exempts from overtime compensation employees “with respect to whom the Secretary of Transportation has power to establish qualifications and maximum hours.” 29 U.S.C.A. § 213(b) (1).

However, the court noted that in June 2008, Section 306 of the FLSA was amended to provide that overtime compensation would be available to “covered employee[s]” despite the provisions of the Motor Carrier Exemption. See P.L. 110–244 § 306(A1)).” Such drivers entitled to overtime compensation included those who worked, in whole or in part, as a driver, driver’s helper, loader, or mechanic on motor vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less in transportation on public highways in interstate or foreign commerce.

The court noted that although some of the drivers occasionally drove larger trucks, the majority of driving hours were spent driving vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds. No drivers were involved in the transportation of passengers or hazardous materials, and therefore, the plaintiffs qualify as covered employees entitled to overtime compensation.