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Motor Carrier Exemption leaves truck drivers out of overtime pay

A judge in New York’s Eastern district recently dismissed claims by employees of an armored truck company that their employer was violating federal overtime laws. The court found that because the employees’ job duties fell under the FLSA’s Motor Carrier Exemption, they were not entitled to overtime pay.

The Motor Carrier Exemption states that some, but not all, employees in the logistics and trucking industry are exempt from federal overtime requirements.

Employees covered by the Motor Carrier Exemption

Section 213(b)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act states the law’s overtime requirements do not apply to those “with respect to whom the Secretary of Transportation has the power to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service.”

What does that mean? For someone in trucking to be exempt from overtime, three factors must be present:

  • Their employer is a “motor carrier” according to DoT regulations
  • Their regular job duties affect the safety of a motor vehicle used on public highways in interstate and foreign commerce
  • Their commercial vehicle weighs at least 10,000 pounds

Generally, this rule applies to drivers, driver’s helpers, loaders, and some mechanics. Moreover, the exemption may still apply even if “safety affecting tasks” do not account for all of their job duties.

DOL guidance fails to make the cut

The armored vehicle company employees mentioned above submitted a 2010 opinion letter from the Department of Labor in support of their position. The letter stated that employees included in the Motor Carrier Exemption should still qualify for overtime. However, the court found that because Congress had already expressly dealt with this issue in the statute, the letter was not enough to turn the case in their favor. 

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