Truck Drivers: Is Sleep Time Compensable?

 In Employment Law, Wage Law

Sleep Time Compensation

In accordance with a new court ruling, federal wage laws may require trucking companies to compensate truck drivers for every hour spent on the job, which includes time spent sleeping during federally required sleep breaks. The ruling, which was issued by a United States District Court in Arkansas, comes as part of a wage and hour lawsuit against P.A.M. Transport Incorporated.

Court Finds Truck Drivers Must be Compensated for Mandatory Sleep Time

In support of its decision, the court noted that federal labor laws should be the controlling factor in deciding how many hours of work a truck driver must be compensated. The court also noted that the Department of Transportation regulations are designed to make roads safe, while the Department of Labor regulations are designed to adequately compensate workers. Therefore, since truck drivers are required to sleep as part of their job, federal law requires compensation for the time spent sleeping.

Who Is Involved in the Case?

P.A.M. Transportation Incorporated is headquartered in Arkansas. Data reveals that the company owned and operated 1,351 trucks in the third quarter of 2018 with posted earnings last quarter of $9.2 million. The truck drivers employed were employed by the company alleged that during any 24 hour shift, they were excluded from working for more than eight hours a day due to DOT regulations. Therefore, the company only compensated truck drivers for drive time.

Federal Regulations Regarding Truck Drivers

Several companies in the trucking industry rely on federal regulations created by the Department of Transportation to determine how many hours worked by a truck driver result in compensation. Specifically, the industry relies on regulations created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which do not count time spent in a truck’s sleeper berth as on-duty time.

These regulations do not limit the distance that truck drivers can travel in a day, but these regulations do limit the amount of time that the operator of a commercial motor vehicle can spend driving each day. These regulations state the following:

  • Drivers of commercial motor vehicles are limited to 11 hours of driving after a 10-hour period of being off duty. There is not an additional limit each day, which means that truck drivers could drive for an additional three hours before the end of a 24 hour day.
  • Drivers of passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicles are limited to 10 hours of driving after eight consecutive hours off duty.

These regulations apply to all commercial motor vehicle drivers. Under these regulations, a driver is anyone who gets behind the wheel of a commercial motor vehicle. A commercial motor vehicle is any vehicle that is used to transport either goods or passengers for the profit of either an individual or business.

Contact an Experienced Wage and Hour Attorney

If you are a truck driver who has been subjected to wage violations, it can be confusing to determine how to proceed. Truck drivers spend a significant amount of time on the job, and it is absolutely crucial that drivers receive adequate compensation – including sleep time compensation. Contact a wage attorney at Herrmann Law today to schedule an initial case evaluation, during which time we will discuss your various available options to pursue your unpaid wages. Call our office: 817-479-9229 or fill out our online questionnaire, and someone from our office will contact you.

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