Employer of Truck Drivers Who Transported Water to Hydraulic Fracking Sites Does Not Qualify for FLSA Exception Under MCA
In Mazzarella v. Fast Rig Support, LLC, a group of truck drivers who transported water to and from hydraulic fracking sites brought suit against their employer to recover unpaid overtime wages. No. 15-3116, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9687 (3d Cir. May 23, 2016). The truck drivers asserted that their employer violated the FLSA because they often worked more than 40 hours per week but were only paid overtime when they worked over 45 hours in a week. In response to the truck drivers’ claims for unpaid overtime, the employer argued that they were exempt from the FLSA under the Motor Carrier Act. Under the Motor Carrier Act, employers are exempt from the FLSA if they are engaged in transportation between “a State and a place in another State.” 49 U.S.C. § 13501.
The District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and held that the employer had not shown the water and drivers were engaged in a “continuous stream of interstate travel” because the water transported involved in the fracking process becomes contaminated and “substantially modified”, resulting in “two separate commercial transactions,” one “before the water becomes tainted” and one after the fracking process is complete. The Third Circuit affirmed the ruling of the District Court. The Court stated that the employer did not present sufficient evidence that the truck drivers were involved in a “continuity of movement in interstate commerce.”