California Truck Drivers - Are you receiving proper pay and breaks?
Fernandez & Lauby LLP specializes in recovering wages for truck drivers. We are experts at negotiating with companies in order to recover the unpaid wages to which you may be entitled. Did you know that the state of California provides several protections for truck drivers living in the state? Contact us if your current or previous employer has failed to meet any of the requirements listed below.
The following sections will discuss the commons situations where truck drivers are not receiving all wages owed when drivers are (1) Paid by the mile, (2) Paid by the hour, and/or (3) Classified as an "independent contractor" or "owner-operator."
Drivers Paid By-The-Mile Must Receive Separate Pay When the Wheels Stop Rolling
Truck drivers that are paid "by-the-mile" often spend substantial amounts of time during the day when "the wheels stop rolling" and, thus, they are not receiving any "by-the-mile" pay. However, it is illegal for trucking companies not to separately pay California truck drivers when the wheels stop rolling. Common examples include: pre-trip and post-trip inspections, detention/loading/unloading, completing paperwork, refueling or repair, and downtime between runs.
California law states that truck drivers are entitled to receive separate pay when the wheels stop rolling, which must be paid at an hourly rate of no less than minimum wage of $10/hour. Furthermore, these separate wages must be paid in addition to the "by-the-mile" pay. Drivers that do not receive these separate wages are often owed a significant amount of money for unpaid downtime.
Also, contrary to what many trucking companies tell their employees, California truck drivers are entitled to receive a separate paid 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked. For "by-the-mile" truck drivers, the payments for these paid rest breaks must be clearly documented on an employee's pay stub as a separate hourly wage at no less than the applicable minimum wage of $10/hour.
Many trucking companies are still not complying with these laws for "by-the-mile" truck drivers. If you are a California "by-the-mile" truck driver, please contact our firm for a free consultation as you may be owed significant back wages and penalties.
Drivers Paid by the Hour Must Receive Compliant Meal and Rest Breaks/Overtime Pay
Truck drivers that are paid per hour often have questions regarding their right to meal and rest breaks and whether they are entitled to overtime.
One issue many drivers encounter is that trucking companies often follow DOT regulations for breaks, but not California law. California law is clear that truck drivers are entitled to California mandated meal periods and rest breaks, which go above and beyond the DOT regulations.
In fact, California truck drivers are entitled to an off-duty 30-minute meal period before the end of their fifth hour of work and a second off-duty meal period before the end of the tenth hour of work. During these mandatory meal periods, a truck driver must be relieved of all duties and must also be free to leave his or her truck. As discussed above, California truck drivers are also entitled to receive a paid 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked (or major fraction of).
If a trucking company fails to comply with California law regarding meal periods and rest breaks, a truck driver is entitled to one hour of pay at his or her regular rate of compensation for each day that a meal period or rest break is not provided.
Overtime laws for truck drivers can be very complicated because both California and federal law can apply. In general, you are not entitled (i.e., exempt) to California overtime if your truck/trailer is over 40-foot-long or the truck has a GVWR of 26,001 or more. Federal law provides overtime for truckers after 40 hours in a work week, unless you drive in "interstate commerce" or the goods you are hauling move in interstate commerce. In other words, if you drive across state lines or the goods you are hauling move across state lines, you are probably not entitled to federal overtime either. But these are only general rules and it is important to have an attorney evaluate your specific situation.
If you are a California truck driver paid per hour and were denied overtime or your meal and rest breaks, please Contact our firm for a free consultation as you may be entitled to significant back wages and penalties.
Independent Contractors and Owner Operators are often Misclassified
Many trucking companies classify their truck drivers as "independent contractors" (or owner operators) in an effort to lower costs and expenses.
However, a company cannot merely classify a truck driver an "independent contractor." California law sets forth rules regarding who may or may not be classified as an independent contractor. The main test to determine if an individual is misclassified focuses on whether the employer has the right to control the method and manner of how the individual performs his or her job duties. As an example, you may be misclassified and owed significant wages and penalties if a trucking company imposes detailed requirements on you, such as setting your schedule, setting strict time deadlines to deliver items, or for cargo security.
If you are a California truck driver classified as an "independent contractor," you may be owed a substantial amount of money. Please Contact Peter Carlson or Brian Mankin with Fernandez & Lauby LLP at 888-959-8505 for a free consultation.