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Exemptions from Wage and Hour Requirements: Motor Carrier

The Fair Labor Standards Act  exempts from the overtime requirement “any employee with respect to whom the Secretary of Transportation has power to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service.” 29 U.S.C. section 213(b)(1). This is known as the motor carrier exemption. The California wage orders contain a similar exemption. See, for example, Wage Order No. 9-2001, Section 3(L).

Most trucking companies fall within the exemption. But, to be exempt the employee in question must also be engaged in activities directly affecting the safety of operation of motor vehicles in interstate or foreign commerce. Interstate commerce is defined broadly to include intrastate delivery of goods if it is merely a continuation of an interstate journey. Walling v. Jacksonville Paper Co., 317 U.S. 564 (1943). Drivers who do not transport goods in interstate commerce are still exempt if they reasonably could be expected to be called on to make interstate runs. Morris v. McComb, 332 U.S. 422 (1947).

For a recent application of the exemption, see Bell v. H.F. Cox, Inc., Case No. B229982 (Cal. Ct. App. 9/5/2012).

After the passage of the Eight-Hour-Day Restoration and Workplace Flexibility Act of 1999, a question arose about whether the California Legislature had repealed the California motor carrier exemption. The Court of Appeal concluded that it had not in Collins v. Overnite Transportation Co., 105 Cal.App.4th 171 (2003).