Federal Preemption of Meal and Rest Breaks is Gaining Steam

by Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

In a significant decision for transportation companies operating in California, a federal district court judge recently dismissed putative class claims brought by truck drivers who alleged meal and rest break violations under California law.

In Cole v. CRST, Inc., 2012 WL 4479237 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 27, 2012), Judge Virginia A. Phillips decided that based on the pleadings alone, the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA), 49 U.S.C. § 14501(c)(1), preempts meal period and rest break claims brought by driver-employees against CRST, a motor carrier with operations in California.

Congress enacted the FAAAA in 1994 to prohibit states from enacting or enforcing laws related to the prices, routes (the courses of travel), or services (the system for picking up, sorting, and carrying goods) of a motor carrier with respect to the transportation of property. The overall goal of Congress was to help ensure that transportation prices, routes, and services reflected the maximum reliance on competitive market forces, thereby stimulating efficiency innovation, low prices, variety, and quality.

This is the fourth such decision in 2012, as it follows three decisions by other courts in the Eastern and Central Districts of California. In Esquivel v. Vistar Corp., 2012 WL 516094 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 8, 2012) the court granted a Rule 12(b)(6) motion dismissing the meal and rest break claims brought by drivers. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party files a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) to assert that the plaintiff’s complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In other words, the defendant files the motion after receiving the complaint and well before the parties ever go to trial. In Aguiar v. California Sierra Express, Inc., the court similarly granted a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. In Campbell v. Vitran Express, Inc., 2012 WL 2317233 (C.D. Cal. June 8, 2012) the court granted a Rule 12(c) motion dismissing the meal and rest break claims brought by drivers. Like Rule 12(b)(6), Rule 12(c) provides a vehicle for the parties to move to dismiss the case based on the pleadings.

In Cole, the court granted a Rule 12(c) motion, finding that, as a matter of law, the FAAAA preempts meal and rest break claims brought by driver-employees of a motor carrier. The court concluded:

California’s Meal and Rest Break Laws are preempted by the FAAAA because the laws affect a carrier’s routes, services, and prices. First, the Meal and Rest Break Laws affect routes by limiting the carriers to a smaller set of possible routes. Drivers must select routes that allow for the logistical requirements of stopping and breaking and they may be forced to take shorter or fewer routes. Second, the Meal and Rest Break Laws affect services by dictating when services may not be performed, by increasing the time it takes to complete a delivery, and by effectively regulating the frequency and scheduling of transportation. Finally, price is affected by the Meal and Rest Break Laws by virtue of the laws effect on routes and services.

The court went on to explain that evidence outside of the pleadings “is not necessary to determine whether the Meal and Rest Break Laws have an impact on prices, routes, or services.” In other words, preemption is not based on a factual determination.

Federal district courts in California now generally agree that California’s meal and rest period requirements are preempted by the FAAAA. However, given that there are at least two appeals currently pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on this issue, employers should be cautious and continue to provide meal and rest breaks for their drivers in California until the issue is finally resolved—hopefully by next year.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.