Teamsters Challenges Federal Agency Decision On California Break Rules On Interstate Truck Drivers

Jackson Lewis P.C.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 2785 has filed a petition for review to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) determination that California’s meal and rest break rules are preempted as applied to drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) subject to the FMCSA’s hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. This primarily involves interstate truck drivers and some intrastate drivers who meet certain criteria under the HOS regulations who drive CMVs. The Teamsters are seeking to reverse the Agency’s administrative determination.

On September 24, 2018, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) petitioned the FMCSA to preempt California law requiring employers to provide their drivers meal and rest breaks who operate CMVs subject to the FMCSA’s HOS regulations.

On December 21, 2018, the FMCSA reversed an FMCSA determination from December 2008 where it previously found California’s meal and rest periods were not preempted by federal law. The FMCSA then granted ATA’s petition and held the meal and rest break rules are preempted under 49 U.S.C. 31141 as applied to CMV drivers covered by the FMCSA’s HOS regulations. Docket No. FMCSA-2018-0304.

FMCSA held that federal law provides for preemption of California laws regarding CMV safety that are additional to or more stringent than federal regulations if they: (1) have no safety benefit; (2) are incompatible with federal regulations; or (3) would cause an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce. The FMCSA determined that the meal and rest break rules are laws on CMV safety, they are more stringent than the Agency’s HOS regulations, have no safety benefits that extend beyond those already provided, and are incompatible with the HOS regulations. They cause an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce, the Agency concluded.

The Teamsters responded by filing a petition for review of the FMCSA’s Determination of Preemption. In light of these recent developments, California employers with drivers covered by FMCSA may consider proceeding cautiously until the matter is clarified through the current litigation.

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.

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