EMPLOYER PREVAILS IN OVERTIME CASE BASED ON MOTOR CARRIER EXEMPTION
Attorney Peter Mavrick recently successfully represented a Miami corporation, FLX of Miami, Inc. (“FLX”), that prevailed in an overtime wage case filed by a
former employee. FLX transports freight in local, national, and international commerce. The case was venued in federal court in Miami, Florida.
The employee had filed a lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) against his former employer, FLX, alleging that FLX failed to pay him for the
hours he worked overtime. FLX contended that it did not violate the overtime wage law and that it is exempt from any overtime requirements relating to the
plaintiff pursuant to the Motor Carrier Act. FLX contended that the FLSA exemption applied because FLX is a “motor carrier” engaged in interstate
commerce, and that the former employee’s dispatcher duties directly affected the safety and operation of FLX’s motor vehicles. The parties agreed that the plaintiff was a truck dispatcher for FLX.
One of the most important points of the federal court’s decision was its interpretation of whether the former employee sufficiently “affected the safety and
operation of motor vehicles,” which is necessary for applying the FLSA exemption under the Motor Carrier Act. Attorney Peter Mavrick argued that a
truck dispatcher necessarily affects the safety and operation of vehicles because the sending of trucks on routes or the issues involved when a truck is distressed, fall on the shoulders of the dispatcher to resolve the safety related issues.
The court agreed. The court’s opinion explained that the former employee’s job duties were analogous to cases applying the Motor Carrier Exemption to drivers, mechanics, loaders and helpers. The court cited, for example, that it was not disputed that the plaintiff’s job duties as truck dispatcher for FLX included calling mobile mechanics for stranded FLX truckers when mechanical breakdowns and flat tires stranded the drivers’ vehicles or impeded their safe operation; the plaintiff had the duty to assign particular drivers to particular trucks based on his assessment of the vehicle and the appropriateness for the vehicle for the task; and the plaintiff’s responsibilities also included checking the vehicles for tire safety, adequate oil, and verifying the vehicle was in safe operation before the driver left FLX’s facilities for deliveries. All are safety-related duties. The court concluded that the plaintiff was engaged in safety-affecting activities in his position as truck dispatcher for FLX. In reaching its conclusion, the court relied on Wirtz v. Robinson & Stephens, Inc., 1972 WL 852 *5 (N.D. Ga. 1972) (applying the Motor Carrier Act exemption and finding mechanics, wrecker and truck drivers, drivers’ helpers, loaders, yardmen and dispatchers for the defendant employer were exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA).
Attorney Peter Mavrick practices in the field of business and labor/employment litigation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His law office phone number is (954) 564-2246. Information contained in this article is accurate as of September 2008. This article is for general information use only, and does not substitute for specifically tailored legal advice.