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Intra- or interstate? It matters for OT suit

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Drivers who deliver merchandise via interstate commerce aren’t covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, but by the Motor Carrier Act. That means that they can’t file FLSA overtime claims. Instead, their employer must follow the MCA rules on hours worked.

But what happens if the drivers move goods from one part of Texas to another and deposit the goods in a warehouse? Then the FLSA does apply.

Dropping off goods at a warehouse doesn’t end the inquiry, as this case shows.

Recent case: Thirteen individuals who worked as commercial drivers for an East Texas beverage distributor sued, alleging they had not been paid overtime for hours in excess of 40 worked in any one week.

They argued they were strictly engaged in intrastate commerce because they merely picked up beverages at warehouses and delivered them to retailers.

Their employer, on the other hand, argued that the drivers were engaged in interstate commerce because the beverages had previously been delivered from out of state to the warehouses and were therefore still in interstate commerce. This, the employer reasoned, meant that only the MCA applied and the drivers were not due overtime.

The court agreed. It reasoned that the interstate shipments were “in commerce” even if they made a temporary stop at a warehouse because there was a reasonable expectation that the goods would continue from the warehouse to retailers based on past and current order history.

The drivers’ case was dismissed. (Bradford v. GG Distributors, No. 2:14-CV-00692, ED TX, 2016)

Final note: Get expert advice on whether your drivers are engaged in interstate commerce or are covered by the FLSA. Mistakes are expensive in cases like this.             

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