Calif.: FAAAA Does Not Preempt State Meal and Rest Period Requirements

By Robert R. Roginson, © Ogletree Deakins Dec 1, 2014

In Godfrey v, Oakland Port Services Corp., which was decided on Oct. 28, 2014, the California Court of Appeal issued a published decision holding that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA) does not preempt California’s meal and rest period requirements.

Lavon Godfrey and Gary Gilbert were employed as truck drivers for Oakland Port Services Corp., which was doing business as AB Trucking. Godfrey and Gilbert initiated a class action lawsuit against the company, alleging that “AB did not pay its drivers for all hours worked, misclassified some drivers as non-employee trainees and did not pay them at all, and failed to provide required meal and rest breaks.”

The plaintiffs sought certification of the class of drivers who performed work for AB out of its Oakland, California facility. The trial court granted the plaintiffs’ class certification motion, and the case proceeded to a bench trial. The court awarded the class a total of $964,557.08, in addition to attorneys’ fees, litigation expenses, and class representative enhancements.

AB appealed arguing that federal law—the FAAAA—preempts application of California’s law on meal and rest break requirements to motor carriers. The FAAAA’s preemption clause restricts states from enacting or enforcing laws “related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier . . . or any motor private carrier, broker, or freight forwarder with respect to the transportation of property.” AB claimed that California’s meal and rest break laws have a significant impact on prices, routes, and services.

In addition, AB argued that the court order granting class certification was unsupported by substantial evidence, that the court should have reserved individual determinations of damages for the claims administration process, and that AB’s drivers are expressly excluded from coverage under Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Order No. 9-2001. The California Court of Appeal rejected AB’s preemption argument and its other arguments and affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

Robert R. Roginson is a shareholder in the Los Angeles office of Ogletree Deakins.Republished with permission. © 2014 Ogletree Deakins. All rights reserved.

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