Commercial trucking carrier J.B. Hunt has agreed to pay a $15 million settlement in an employment lawsuit over trucker pay, weeks after the original class of 11,000 was de-certified. Los Angeles wage dispute lawyers following the case recall the firm had sought intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing interstate drivers in California should be exempt from state law mandates on meal and rest breaks.
In Ortega v. J.B. Hunt Transport Inc., originally filed more than a decade ago, plaintiffs asserted the commercial trucking company failed to pay drivers in accordance with California wage-and-hour laws. Truck drivers in California (like all other employees) are entitled at minimum to receive 30-minute breaks for every 5 hours in which they work. It was the carrier’s position that a federal law passed in 1994 preempted this requirement by asserting that state statues couldn’t interfere with laws pertaining to interstate trucking.
Wage dispute lawyers in California know that the trucking industry lobbied hard – for years – to pass the Denham Amendment to that 1994 law, which would have effectively voided California’s law and any other state that attempted to pass one similar. Absent that amendment, states have the right to override this provision. The effect in California is that a truck driver over the course of an 11-hour shift would be required to take two, 30-minute breaks. Defendant in this case isn’t the only one to face scrutiny after workers alleged they also were denied state-mandated breaks from their employer. Continue reading