BNA Daily Labor Report: Pepsi Drivers Sue for Unpaid Inspections, Paperwork

April 18, 2008: Eleven truck drivers filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia April 9 against the Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. and New Bern Transport Inc. for compensation for time they spend doing paperwork and inspecting their trucks (Carter v. New Bern Transport Inc., E.D. Va., No. 4:08-cv-00042, complaint filed 4/9/08).

The plaintiffs, who now work or have worked within the past three years at the Pepsi Bottling Group's facility in Newport News, Va., allege that the companies, which jointly employ them, have engaged in willful, ongoing violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Gilbert Carter, the lead plaintiff, and the other drivers assert that they begin their workday by filling out paperwork, which requires approximately 15 minutes, and then conducting a pre-trip inspection of their tractor-trailers, which requires another 15 minutes. Drivers who find problems must wait while their trucks are repaired. The drivers are not paid for this time.

After completing their deliveries, drivers must inspect their trucks again and re-fuel them. These tasks require approximately 30 minutes, the complaint charges.

Pay for Downtime

The drivers are paid $0.395 for each mile that they drive. They also are paid an hourly rate of $8.50 for downtime, which is defined as time during which a driver is unable to perform his duties because of a delay that is not under his control.

However, the collective bargaining agreement between the employers and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 822, which represents the drivers, stipulates that the companies do not have to pay the drivers for their pretrip and post-trip inspections or the first half hour of their daily downtime.

The complaint estimates that each plaintiff "is unlawfully deprived of an average of sixty minutes per day of uncompensated services." The drivers seek reimbursement for these tasks at their downtime rate of $8.50 per hour and back pay for the three years before the lawsuit was filed.

They also seek attorneys' fees and liquidated damages equal to the amount of unpaid wages.

Jeff Dahncke, public relations director for the Pepsi Bottling Group, declined to discuss the case, citing the company's policy against commenting on pending litigation.

Representatives of New Bern Transport could not be reached for comment.

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