Seventh Circuit Exempts Interstate School Bus Drivers From FLSA Overtime Requirements

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

Last month, in Almy v. Kickert School Bus Line, Inc., No. 13-1273 (July 16, 2013), the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals joined the Second, Third, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits,in finding that school bus drivers who transport students across state lines fall within the “motor-carrier exemption” to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and are thus ineligible for overtime pay.

Robert T. Almy, an employee of Kickert School Bus Line, Inc. filed the suit. Almy, who who lived on the border between Indiana and Illinois, worked in both states as a school bus driver, He drove his bus to pick up children at private Illinois schools and transported them to their homes in Indiana. He also drove chartered trips for Illinois schools, taking passengers to destinations within Indiana. Almy believed that Kickert had improperly failed to pay him overtime compensation when he worked more than 40 hours in a week. Accordingly, he filed suit under the FLSA and Illinois’s wage laws.

The FLSA contains a “motor carrier exemption” from its overtime provisions on the ground that the exclusive authority to set maximum hours for certain employees of motor carriers is vested in the Secretary of Transportation by the Motor Carrier Act (MCA). However, a section of the MCA also provides that the Secretary of Transportation does not have jurisdiction “under this part over . . . a motor vehicle transporting only school children and teachers to or from school.”

Based on the MCA’s reference to excluding vehicles transporting children to and from school, Almy argued that the Secretary of Transportation did not have the exclusive jurisdiction to set his maximum hours. Thus, Almy claimed that he did not fall within the FLSA’s motor carrier exemption, but rather was subject to the FLSA’s ordinary overtime pay requirement. In doing so, he relied on a Northern District of Illinois decision, Mielke v. Laidlaw Transit, Inc., in which the court determined that school bus drivers were not exempt under the motor carrier exemption of the FLSA. The problem for Almy was that the section of the MCA regarding school bus drivers is found in an entirely separate subtitle from the maximum hours’ requirement. The district court thus found that the limitation on the Secretary of Transportation’s jurisdiction extended only to those powers granted in the same subtitle as the school bus exemption. Since the power to set maximum hours was outside of the subtitle including the school bus exemption, the district court found in favor of Kickert, holding that the FLSA motor carrier exemption applied to Almy.

The Seventh Circuit affirmed. In a unanimous decision, the court made a distinction between economic regulations and safety regulations under the MCA. According to the court, the exclusive authority held by the Secretary of Transportation to set maximum hours falls under the safety regulations subtitle of the MCA, while the limitation on the Secretary of Transportation’s jurisdiction over school bus drivers falls within the economic regulations subtitle of the statute. As a result, the Seventh Circuit held that the Secretary of Transportation had the exclusive authority to set Almy’s maximum hours and the FLSA overtime requirements did not apply pursuant to that statute’s motor carrier exemption.

By narrowing the exemption and preventing a subsection of school bus drivers from seeking relief under the FLSA, the Seventh Circuit has now resolved a disagreement among its district courts as to whether school bus drivers who drive across state lines are exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements. As a result, the Seventh Circuit has given carriers employing interstate school bus drivers better clarity regarding their obligations under the FLSA.

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 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:

- 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.