In California, the ongoing litigation around the definition of an employee versus independent contractor and the rules for meal and rest breaks threaten to upend the trucking industry. While these issues are understandably garnering significant attention, there are others across the country that could also have a large impact. Currently, a case in Arkansas may leave the industry forced to undergo massive change.
In October 2018, a federal court in Arkansas took on a case against PAM Transport. The lawsuit centered on the time and activities drivers were required to be paid minimum wage for. Notably, this included time on the road sleeping that may normally be logged as off duty. PAM transport sought to have the case dismissed but their motion was denied.
The Arkansas court went further this January when it certified the case as a class action. The case is proceeding largely under the Fair Labor Standards Act, where the court will soon have to decide the merits of the claim.
While the courts' decisions so far do not promise a victory for the plaintiffs, they are certainly of note, as the case winds its way through the litigation process. The Arkansas court's interpretation of federal law could, of course, impact the industry nationwide, with the potential for the case to continue on appeal and establish a firmer precedent.
The Arkansas case and similar others underscore how important it is for those in the trucking industry to have a strong legal team help them stay on top of the frequent changes to the rules by which the industry must operate.