Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of California Meal-Break Rule

Michele Fuetsch
Transport Topics
May 05, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear appeal of rulings that upheld a California law that requires employers to provide meal breaks to workers.

Penske Logistics was asking the court to overturn decisions by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, that said the companies must abide by the state law.

The second case involved Vitran Express, a Canadian carrier. In both cases, drivers were the plaintiffs. The Supreme Court announced May 4 its decision to reject the appeals.

The high court’s decision means that the circuit court decision stands.

The meal-break law requires employers to provide a “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for employees who work more than five hours a day.

The law also requires a second “duty free” 30-minute meal break for those who work more than 10 hours a day.

Lawyers for the logistics company, a division of Penske Truck Leasing Co., had argued that federal law governing trucking companies pre-empted state laws.

The trucking company law is contained in the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994, which provides that a state “may not enact or enforce a law . . . related to a price, route or service of any motor carrier with respect to transportation of property.”

The plaintiffs in the original lawsuit against Penske represented a certified class of 349 delivery truck drivers. They work on an account Penske has that services Whirlpool appliances.

According to court documents, the drivers delive products in California and are on the job more than 10 hours a day.

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