Wage Theft and Chauffeur Drivers
Chauffeur Drivers: You have Legal Rights
Are Chauffeur Drivers Employees?
Despite what many believe, most chauffeur drivers and other types of common-carrier drivers are just like “regular” employees. This means that chauffeur drivers are entitled to be paid the minimum wage, entitled to be paid for “waiting time,” entitled to overtime, and entitled to keep their tips.
When an employer fails to pay chauffeur drivers their proper wages, tips, and overtime, those employers can be held accountable. If you are a chauffeur driver and you think your employer has engaged in wage theft, theft of your tips, or has failed to properly pay overtime, you should call the experienced employee rights attorney here at Herrmann Law. We have represented many chauffeur drivers over the years, and we have a proven record of success in obtaining justice for our clients.
Are Chauffeur Drivers Entitled to Overtime Pay?
Many employers will falsely claim that there are exceptions for chauffeur drivers, but the exceptions are legally narrow. One exception that is commonly cited is for motor-carriers which operate under the authority of the US Department of Transportation pursuant to the Motor Carrier Act. But, as noted, the “motor carrier exemption” is narrow. It does not apply in many cases such as where the vehicle weighs less than 10,000 pounds and is used to transport fewer than eight people for compensation. Another commonly cited exception is the “taxi cab exemption.” But, chauffeurs are not driving taxi cabs, so this exception almost never applies.
Your rights as an employee can be vindicated regardless of how you are paid
Chauffeur drivers possess all their rights as an employee regardless of how they are paid. It is common for chauffeur drivers to be paid via flat rate, day rate or even per trip rate. But, no matter how they are paid, chauffeur drivers have rights — as employees — that can be vindicated. For example, even if you are paid by the day, if you work more than 40 hours in a week, you are generally entitled to overtime under federal labor laws. Moreover, your “work time” can include “waiting time” and “on-call time.” Under federal law, generally speaking, chauffeur drivers must be paid for all time when on duty and when they are “on-call” or “waiting” in such a manner that the chauffeur is prevented from engaging in his or her own “personal pursuits.”
Are Chauffeur Drivers Entitled to keep Their Tips and Gratuities?
As a chauffeur, if you are given a cash tip from your customer upon arrival at the destination, regardless of what your employer says, that tip belongs to you.
But the legal inquiry does not end there. Even if the gratuity and service charge is mandatory and included on the bill, some states still deem the charge to be a tip — belonging to the employee — under some circumstance. For example, in New York, employers cannot retain a mandatory gratuity if the employer represents or allows customers to believe that the mandatory charge is a gratuity for employees. See, for example, Samiento v. World Yacht Inc., 10 N.Y.3d 70 (2008). In that case, money was collected as “banquet service charges” and was included as part of the ticket price for dining cruises. The wait staff for the cruise line argued that, under New York law, such mandatory charges should be legally deemed as “tips” belonging to the wait staff because the cruise line represented to customers that the mandatory charges were for the employees. The court agreed.
Call the Employee Rights Attorneys at Herrmann Law Today
If you have questions about your wages, overtime, tips or gratuities, service charges, or wage deductions, please call the wage and overtime attorneys at Herrmann Law, PLLC. Call us at (817) 479-9229 or submit your case by using our Online Contact page. We are proven, experienced, employee-focused attorneys representing workers across the United States in all types of workplace disputes.