The FLSA’s Motor Carrier Act Exemption: Overtime Pay for Drivers

 In Employment Law, Featured, Overtime Law, Wage Law

Overtime Exemption: Motor Carrier Act

Under federal law, all employees are entitled to overtime pay unless exempt. We have previously covered some of the more commonly used overtime exemptions (article: Administrative Overtime Exemption; various overtime exemptions). In this article we are going to cover the commonly misapplied overtime exemption known as the Motor-Carrier Act Exemption. We have represented numerous employees in overtime related claims. If you have a question about your entitlement to overtime, call the overtime lawyers at Herrmann Law: 817-479-9229 or contact us on our website.

The Motor Carrier Act Overtime Exemption

In general, the Motor Carrier Act exempts employees from overtime who:

  1. Are are employed by a motor carrier or motor private carrier;
  2. Are a driver, driver’s helper, loader, or mechanic whose duties affect the safety of operation of motor vehicles weighing greater than 10,000 lbs. in transportation on public highways in interstate or foreign commerce;
  3. Are not covered by the Small Vehicle Exception.

If your job duties meet the above requirements, then you are covered by the Motor Carrier Act Exemption and are exempt from being paid overtime pay (one and one half the regular rate of pay for hours over 40 in a workweek). However, you may still be entitled to overtime if your work satisfies the Small Vehicle Exception. Therefore, I will first discuss the “small vehicle exception”.

What is the Small Vehicle Exception?

First, if you are covered by the small vehicle exception, then the MCA exemption does not apply to you and you are entitled to overtime.

The small vehicle exception states that an employee of a motor carrier or motor private carrier is entitled to overtime in any work week that:

  1. The employee’s work, in whole or in part, is that of a driver, driver’s helper, loader or mechanic affecting the safety of operation of motor vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds of less in transportation on public highways in interstate or foreign commerce, except vehicles:
    1. Designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers, including the driver, for compensation; or
    2. Designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
    3. Used in transporting hazardous material, requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Transportation.

and

  1. The employee performs duties on motor vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less.

Therefore, if sometimes you work on small vehicles (less than 10,000 lbs) then you are entitled to overtime and not exempt. This often comes up with employees who work for mixed-fleet operators.

For example, chauffeur or limousine companies have vehicles ranging in size from sedans to 50+ passenger busses. If you work for a chauffeur company and drive a 50+ passenger bus (clearly weighing more than 10,000 lbs) but in that same week you also drive a trip in a sedan or a Yukon, then you are entitled to overtime for that entire week. There are numerous other examples where the small vehicle exception applies, and therefore if you have questions about your entitlement to overtime, call the overtime lawyers at Herrmann Law.

Employed by a Motor Carrier?

First, if you work does not meet the small vehicle exception, then your employer must be a Motor-Carrier.

Does My Job Qualify as Exempt from Overtime?

Next, just because you are employed by a motor-carrier does not mean you are exempt from overtime. Only employees of a motor-carrier who are a driver, driver’s helper, loader, or mechanic whose duties affect the safe operation of large vehicles are exempt. Therefore, there are several employees of motor-carriers who are not exempt under the motor-carrier act:

  • Office Staff;
  • Unloaders (those who unload as opposed to load)
  • Those who are covered by the small vehicle exception
  • Employees who load, but are not involved in the determining placement or other safety issues; and
  • Many other employees

As stated above, in order to be exempt from overtime, your job duties must have something to do with the safety operation of large (i.e. greater than 10,000 lbs) vehicles. Specifically, if your job involves working around large vehicles but your job does not affect the safe operation, then you are not exempt and are entitled to overtime.

What if I also work on vehicles weighing greater than 10,000 lbs. in the same work week?

The Motor Carrier Act’s exemption from overtime does NOT APPLY to an employee who qualifies under the Small Vehicle Exception in such work weeks even though their duties may also affect the safety of operation of motor vehicles weighing greater than 10,000 pounds, or vehicles listed in subsections (a), (b), and (c), in the same workweek.

Therefore, if you work in a mixed fleet of vehicles as a driver, driver’s helper, loader or mechanic affecting the safety of operation of motor vehicles, you are required to be paid overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

If you work as a driver, driver’s helper, loader, or mechanic on a vehicle weighing 10,000 lbs. or less, and you are not being paid overtime, please call our offices to discuss your entitlement to overtime. This exception to the Motor Carrier Act’s exemption from overtime pay is very specific, but our experienced overtime attorneys can determine if you are being paid properly under the federal overtime laws. Contact us.

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