How Are Truck Drivers Exempt from Overtime?

A truck driver sued his employer claiming that he was eligible for overtime. He lost.

For the trucking companies reading this blog, you know about MCAE (Motor Carrier Act Exemption), SAFETEA (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act), TCA (Technical Corrections Act) and GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating). For the rest of you, you’re about to be educated.

Plaintiff McCall drove trucks for Red Racks Thrift Store. Red Racks is operated by the non-profit Disabled American Veterans (DAV). McCall was a salaried employee not eligible for overtime.

Now I know what you’re thinking: how is a truck driver exempt from overtime? The FLSA’s overtime provision is not applicable to “any employee with respect to whom the Secretary of Transportation has power to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service pursuant to the provisions of Section 31502 of Title 49.” This exemption is commonly referred to as the MCAE.

In accordance with SAFETEA, the MCAE only exempts employees from the FSLA who operate a “commercial motor vehicle.” To be a commercial motor vehicle, the vehicle must have a GVWR of 10,001 pounds. The trucks McCall drove had an actual weight of less than 10,000 pounds but a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds. In other words, McCall operated trucks that were rated to carry substantially heavier loads than the loads he actually carried.

McCall believed he was eligible for overtime because his vehicle weighed less than 10,000. He was wrong.

The proper measure of a vehicle’s weight for purposes of the TCA is its GVWR. The DOL’s Field Service Bulletin No. 2010-2 is clear that FLSA overtime requirements only apply to vehicles with a GVWR of less than 10,000 pounds. McCall’s vehicle had a GVWR exceeding 10,000 pounds, so FLSA overtime protections did not apply to him.

Matt Austin is a Columbus, Ohio lawyer who owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm with offices in central and northeast Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. Austin Legal’s Concierge Legal Services program is relied upon by companies to remain compliant and competitive. If you have employees, you need Concierge Legal Services. You can call Matt at (614) 285-5342 or email him at Austin@LaborEmploymentOSHA.com.

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