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Overtime Lawsuits—Keep on Trucking

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New York, NYOvertime lawsuits are increasing nationwide, particularly in some states where truckers who were at first denied overtime pay may find that their employer has violated the overtime law. Historically, truck drivers are generally ineligible for overtime pay under federal wage and hour law, but not so in New Jersey, and perhaps other states will soon follow its example.

According to the US Labor Department about 115 million employees—86 percent of the workforce—are covered by federal overtime rules and these rules apply to both salaried and hourly workers. The proliferation of wage and hour lawsuits filed on behalf of the traditional working class, including truckers, is staggering: Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported that overtime cases have doubled in the federal courts from 2001 to 2006.

Although federal overtime law prohibits truck drivers from collecting overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) motor carrier exemption, an appellate court recently upheld a ruling that the truck driver overtime exemption in New Jersey only applies to companies primarily engaged in trucking or moving and storage, and not to businesses that "transport goods incident to a different business purpose… Should federal and state overtime laws conflict, the worker must be afforded the benefit of the law that is most favorable to them."

In other words, a truck driver cannot collect overtime pay under federal overtime law, but he or she may be entitled to overtime under New Jersey overtime law. If you are a New Jersey truck driver and you worked more than 40 hours in a single work week (there could be certain exemptions), your employer must pay you 1.5 times your regular rate of pay for every hour over 40.

Although countless employers may not intend to violate overtime laws, and likely a majority of employers are not aware of this recent court ruling, some employers deliberately violate overtime law by a number of devious tactics. One common violation is to pay truckers by the mile instead of by the hour, i.e., if you have been paid the same amount per mile for hours worked over the 40 hours in the week. Another common practice is to intentionally misclassify truck drivers as contract drivers.

Truck drivers include, but are not limited to, the following:

- Commercial truck drivers
- Delivery services truck drivers
- Route drivers
- Driver/sales workers
- Package delivery drivers

Truck Driver Overtime Settlements

Last December 2008, FedEx Corporation agreed to pay $27 million to settle a misclassification lawsuit brought on behalf of 203 drivers in California. According to the New York Times, a state judge wrote in the suit that FedEx Ground had "close to absolute control" over the drivers, adding that the operating agreement they signed was "a brilliantly drafted contract creating the constraints of an employment relationship disguised in the independent contractor model."

In August 2009 an overtime lawsuit was settled for 11 weeks of unpaid wages and overtime on behalf of a tow truck driver for $40,000.00. The suit argued that the towing company owed the tow truck driver wages for the time he spent waiting to take tow calls.

New Jersey-based truckers who regularly work a 40-hour week and have been denied overtime pay are advised to contact a wage and hour attorney and review unpaid overtime claims.


Overtime Legal Help

If you have suffered losses in this case, please send your complaint to a lawyer who will review your possible [Overtime Lawsuit] at no cost or obligation.


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