Two meat-delivery drivers have filed a class action suit against their employer, alleging they were denied overtime pay in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA.) The employer argues that they were not obligated to pay the drivers overtime wages, because they fell into the motor carrier exemption. The defendants brought the case before a New York judge for summary judgment and were subsequently denied the motion, citing issues of fact.
The men worked as delivery drivers for a New York-based meat distribution company. Their primary duties were transporting products stored at the New York warehouse for delivery to in-state customers. Many of the products stored at the warehouse were ordered from outside of New York. The most significant fact being argued in the case was whether the men were truly engaged in interstate commerce and therefore fell into the motor carrier exemption for overtime.
Exemptions to FLSA Overtime Rules
Exemptions to the FLSA’s rules on overtime applies to drivers, driver’s helpers, loaders, and mechanics who are within the authority of the Secretary of Transportation and whose duties affect the safety of operation of motor vehicles in interstate commerce. The interstate commerce requirement is satisfied if the goods being transported within the borders of one state are involved in a practical continuity of movement in the flow of interstate commerce. Simply put, if the company received goods from out of state with a fixed intent that they be transported to a specific customer who had ordered the item, regardless of whether it was stored temporarily intrastate, the motor carrier exemption applies. However, if the final destination of items brought in from out of state is not known at the time of delivery to the warehouse, then the exemption does not apply.
Determining when Intrastate Movement is considered Interstate Movement
An earlier Supreme Court decision created a framework for determining whether intrastate movements are “interstate” for the purposes of the motor carrier exemption. In that case, the court discussed three circumstances when goods were brought from out of state but sold and distributed to customers within the state.
- Goods purchased by the wholesaler or distributer upon order of a customer with the definite intention that they be carried at once to the customer.
- Goods obtained by the wholesaler or distributer to meet the needs of specific customers in agreement with an understanding, contractual or otherwise, although not for immediate delivery.
- Goods are brought to the warehouse in anticipation of customer need, rather than upon prior orders or contracts.
The court held that the goods in the first two categories remain in interstate commerce until the time they are delivered to the retail customers. Goods in the third category, however, can only be considered interstate commerce if there is specific evidence relating a product to a particular customer.
The owner of the meat distribution company presented the court with a list of approximately 100 special orders from out-of-state suppliers to be delivered to specific customers in-state. The judge declared the document inadmissible, on the grounds that it was lacking in sufficient detail including dates and costs, and did not appear to have been made in the normal course of business. Summary judgment was denied and the case will proceed to trial at a later date. Attorneys for the plaintiffs estimate that their clients are owed more than $60,000 in overtime pay from the defendants.
Philadelphia Overtime Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green handle Overtime Disputes
Philadelphia overtime pay lawyers of Sidkoff, Pincus & Green are highly skilled business and employment litigators with experience representing employees with overtime claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Call 215-574-0600 today or submit an online contact form to arrange a consultation with one of our qualified Philadelphia overtime dispute lawyers. Our office is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and we represent clients throughout the Philadelphia and South Jersey regions.