California’s Meal and Rest Period Rules Do Not Apply to Property-Carrying Commercial Vehicle Drivers

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California’s Meal and Rest Period Rules Do Not Apply to Property-Carrying Commercial Vehicle Drivers

On May 2, 2019, a U.S. District Court Judge in Ayala v. U.S. Xpress Enterprises, Inc. granted a trucking company’s motion for partial summary judgment dismissing the meal and rest period claim from a putative wage and hour class action. The Ayala court based its decision on an Order issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation) that concluded that California’s meal and rest period rules as applied to property-carrying commercial vehicle drivers, were preempted by the FMCSA’s hours of service regulations.

In its Order dated December 28, 2018, the FMCSA determined that California’s meal and rest period rules were laws on commercial motor vehicle safety, they were more stringent than the Agency’s hours of service regulations, they had no safety benefits that extend beyond those already provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, they were incompatible with the Federal hours of service regulations, and they cause an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.

The Ayala court acknowledged the authority of the Secretary of Transportation to make a determination that state laws meeting certain criteria are preempted and, unless the Ninth Circuit rules otherwise, California may not enforce its meal and rest period rules with respect to drivers of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles subject to FMCSA’s hours of service rules.