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Transportation Law Archives

California Court Demonstrates Impact of FMCSA Preemption Decision

As discussed on this blog, late last year the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") determined that California's Meal and Rest Break rules are pre-empted by federal law, as applied to property-carrying commercial motor vehicle drivers covered by the FMCSA's Hours of Service regulations. Less than five months later, the implications of this are being seen in court.

Beyond California, Litigation in Other States Could Also Upend the Trucking Industry

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.

Supreme Court Deals Blow to Trucking Companies Seeking Arbitration

In a recent Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA") decision, the United States Supreme Court unanimously made getting to arbitration more difficult for trucking companies. In Oliveira v. New Prime, the Supreme Court determined that it was for a court, not an arbitrator, to decide if the exemption in Section 1 of the FAA applies. More importantly for truckers, the Court decided that the Section 1 exemption applied to all truck drivers, whether employees or independent contractors. This means the FAA cannot be used to compel arbitration of claims involving truck drivers.

New Labor Commissioner Decision Demonstrates Continuing Attacks on Independent Contractor Truck Driver Model

As discussed previously on this blog, recent legal developments have complicated the business plans of trucking companies that use independent contractors as drivers. These have included the Dynamex decision that changed the 30-year-old test of whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, but appears applicable only in certain circumstances and for only certain legal claims. This was followed by lawsuits to invalidate Dynamex and a federal district court decision finding that Dynamex was pre-empted by federal law. Compounding this confusion, California passed a law late last year that exposed large retailers to new potential liability. The bill, SB 1402, meant companies could be jointly liable when they hire companies that have violated state employment laws. Now shippers could be liable for violations caused by the motor carriers they hire.

FMCSA Determines that California Meal and Rest Break Rules are Preempted

On December 21, 2018, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted petitions submitted by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association (SCRA) requesting a determination that the State of California's Meal and Rest Break rules (MRB Rules) are preempted under 49 U.S.C. 31141 as applied to property-carrying commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers covered by the FMCSA's Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. Basically, ATA and SCRA argued that the MRB should not apply to commercial truck drivers because federal HOS rules already regulated driver breaks. The extensive public comments filed in response to the petitions and considered by the FMCSA can be found at the regulations.gov website.

The California Trucking Association Files Its Case Against Dynamex

As discussed previously on this blog, the Dynamex Operations West v. Superior Court decision upended California's independent contractor market with a new test for whether a worker will be considered an employee. The new test was particularly problematic for the trucking industry. As such, several cases have arisen to challenge the Dynamex decision. The Western States Trucking Association (WTSA) challenged the case. Additionally, a recent California District Court decision determined federal law pre-empts Dynamex. Of course, there is a still a long way to go before Dynamex's fate is decided.

California Continues to Pressure the Trucking Industry Nationwide

Backed by many in the trucking industry, the Environmental Protection Agency is planning to implement new limits on commercial truck emissions. The new limits appear to be in response to California pushing ahead with laws of its own.

Is the Trucking Industry Primed for an Uber-Style Overhaul?

Manbang, China's "Uber-for-Trucks" is securing funds to support expansion of its driverless program, and the company has already invested in a Silicon Valley driverless truck start-up. While the company is still establishing itself in China, it's success or failure could be a signal for similar companies in the United States.

New State Law Puts Shipping Customers at Risk

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed SB 1402, which quickly has shippers, particularly larger retailers, facing new levels of potential liability. The bill means retailers will now be held jointly liable when the trucking companies they hire for port drayage services violate state employment laws.

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