The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to compensate employees at a rate of no less than one and half times the normal rate of pay for any hours worked in excess of forty hours per week, unless an exemption, which must be narrowly construed applies. Employers who violate the provisions of the FLSA are liable to employees for the amount of their unpaid overtime compensation, an additional equal amount as liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees and costs.
The Motor Carrier Act (MCA) exemption provides that overtime pay is not required for any employee with respect to whom the Secretary of Transportation has power to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service pursuant to the provisions of the MCA. In order for the MCA exemption to apply, an employer must prove two factors: (1) the employer is a carrier subject to the Department of Transportation’s jurisdiction, and (2) the employee is a member of a class of employees that engages in activities of a character directly affecting the safety of operation of motor vehicles in the transportation on the public highways of passengers or property in interstate or foreign commerce.
In Harrison v. Delguerico’s Wrecking & Salvage, Inc. (E. D. Pa. June 10, 2016) (Kelly, J.), the employee filed a Complaint under the FLSA, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated current and former employees of the employer, alleging that the employer failed to pay the employee and similarly situated former and current employees overtime wages for a number of years, by either erroneously claiming the employees were either exempt employees or mis-identifying employees as independent contractors. The employer claimed employees fall within the scope of the Motor Carrier Act exemption to the FLSA which would disqualify the employees from overtime pay.
In Harrison, the employee was a driver 95% of the time; the issue was whether the employee was subject to being used in interstate travel. To satisfy this factor, the employer must establish either that the activities of the employee involved interstate travel of a character that was more than de minimis that interstate travel was a natural, integral and inseparable part of the employee’s job. In determining whether the drivers had reasonable expectations of interstate driving, courts look at whether the carrier-employer conducted interstate work, or whether the employer actively attempted to obtain interstate work during the period in question. The employer’s involvement in interstate commerce must be established by some concrete evidence such as an actual trip in interstate commerce or proof that interstate business had been solicited. If jurisdiction is claimed over a driver who has not driven in interstate commerce, evidence must be presented that the employer has engaged in interstate commerce and that the driver could reasonably have been expected to make interstate runs. Satisfactory evidence may include statements from drivers and employers and any employment agreements. Evidence of driving in interstate commerce or being subject to being used in interstate commerce should be accepted as proof that the driver is subject to the exemption for a 4-month period from the date of the proof.
In Harrison, the employee worked for the employer for a one-year period and the employee testified he did not partake in any interstate travel while working for the employer and that all of the interstate travel transactions the employer participated in occurred more than four months after the employee stopped working for the employer. The court found that there was no actual evidence when the employee allegedly took his interstate runs, the employer did not produce route sheets for any of its drivers, and the owner of the business was unsure if route sheets were even kept or made and the only evidence of interstate truck runs was vague verbal testimony from the employer. The Court found that the employer was unable to prove as a matter of law that employee was subject to being used in interstate commerce since the employer failed to prove engagement in interstate travel during the employee’s employment or within four months of his employment. Consequently, the Court found that the employer could not demonstrate that it was entitled to the Motor Carrier Act exemption to the FLSA and denied the Defendant employer’s Motion for Summary Judgment.
Abramson Employment Law represents employees who have FLSA claims for unpaid wages and overtime pay. For more information, see http://www.job-discrimination.com/lawyer-attorney-1126494.html