Drivers who are assigned to trucks with a weight-grade classification of 10,000 pounds or more are exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (). Instead, the Motor Carrier Act has different pay rules for long-distance drivers.
Employers have long relied on the truck weight classification—not the actual weight the truck is carrying—to determine whether the driver received overtime.
That was recently challenged in a class-action lawsuit. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the common practice.
Recent case: Birdell drove trucks for the Red Racks Thrift Store, run by the Disabled American Veterans. The trucks he operated had an actual weight of less than 10,000 pounds, but a gross vehicle weight rating of greater than 10,000 pounds.
Birdell sued, alleging he and other drivers who never hauled loads that caused the loaded truck to tip the scales at 10,000 pounds should have received overtime pay when they worked more than 40 hours in a week. The charity argued that it was the truck rating that counted, not the actual weight on any given day.
The court agreed and dismissed the case. (McCall v. Disabled American Veterans, et al., No. 12-3011, 8th Cir., 2013)
Final note: This case shows that even long-time industry practices can be challenged, seemingly out of nowhere. Don’t be surprised when it happens, but accept it as a cost of doing business.