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Size of delivery vehicle influences ruling on overtime pay

Delivery drivers in California wondering how the Fair Labor Standards Act could apply to their wages have new guidance from an appeals court decision. The terms of the SAFETEA-LU Technical Corrections Act of 2008 persuaded the three-judge panel of a federal appeals court to determine that the sales managers for a bakery company were entitled to overtime pay.

Their employer had contested the claim, citing the exemption detailed within the FLSA that excused companies categorized as professional motor carriers from paying overtime to drivers. A lower court had sided with the employer, but, on appeal, the judges looked more closely at how the corrective legislation from 2008 could apply. That act undid the exemption for motor carriers if employees' duties included vehicles that weighed 10,000 pounds or less.

The case's plaintiffs had used their personal vehicles to perform roughly 70 percent to 90 percent of deliveries. When using company vehicles, the employees had access to a fleet that included automobiles over and under 10,000 pounds. Based on the company's view, this "mixed fleet" did not meet the requirements of the corrections act. The judges, however, found nothing within the law that said all fleet vehicles had to be less than 10,000 pounds to exempt the employer from paying overtime.

A person with questions about how an employer is calculating wages could consult an attorney. After looking at the client's work duties, an attorney could evaluate how the Fair Labor Standards Act applies to that particular work situation. When evidence shows that the employer has violated wage and hour laws, an attorney could prepare a lawsuit that seeks back pay and inform regulatory authorities. An attorney's direct communication with an employer might lead to a settlement prior to a trial.

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