California Delivery Drivers Have Rights Too - Aiman-Smith & Marcy
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California Delivery Drivers Have Rights Too

Delivery drivers have a pretty hectic work life, and the last thing that they need is to be treated as though they have no rights while on the job. In fact, delivery drivers do have rights. Two important ones rights for drivers are:

To Be Paid Overtime

The federal rule about overtime is that if you work more than 40 hours in a week, your employer owes you the regular rate plus half the rate for every hour over 40. The 40 hours that you work have to be within a time frame of 168 consecutive hours, and that 168 hours can start at any time in the day.

California has more stringent rules: we judge overtime by the day instead of the week, so if you work for more than 8 hours within any given day, you get paid time and a half for the excess time.

However, delivery drivers are only sometimes protected by the California law, and only sometimes covered by the federal law. Drivers also have to be employees of the company paying.

The federal rule is from the Fair Labor Standards Act.  It applies to most drivers, but the act exempts anyone whose job is critical for the safety of the cargo and crosses foreign or state lines. It also exempts local delivery drivers, driver’s helpers, and people transporting produce.

You might qualify for California’s more generous overtime pay laws if your vehicle weighs less than 26,001 pounds, doesn’t tow anything that weighs more than 10,000 pounds, and your motor truck with 3 axles weighs less than 10,000 pounds. You won’t qualify for overtime under the federal or the state law if you transport hazardous materials, or if you drive a truck that crosses state lines and is heavier than 10,000 pounds or carries more than 8 people. 

All of this assumes that you’re an employee and your union or work contract doesn’t specify some other pay schedule.

To Get Proper Meals And Rest Breaks

California is famous for its strict laws concerning meal periods. According to the Division of Labor,  all employees who work for more than 5 hours must get at least half an hour to eat lunch. This time has to be uninterrupted, meaning that the employee is not doing anything work-related. If he or she is on-call, this time must be reimbursed at the regular rate. Anyone working for more than 10 hours is supposed to have a 2nd half-hour off.  An employer doesn’t have to stop you from doing any work, but they have to relieve you of your duties and not stop you from leaving. If your company is exclusively interstate, this rule applies to you.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a similar rule: all drivers have to get a half-hour meal break during the day when they have no responsibilities concerning the trucks and the loads. 

The Administration even rules that all drivers may take at least 8 consecutive hours off to sleep, though they can take less than that if they nap.

However, the FMCSA has different rules about when the driver must take his or her lunch. If your company operates across state borders, you come under the Department of Transportation hours-of-service regulations, which are looser and less generous than California’s meal rules. The FMCSA’s hour rules will apply to you if you meet certain conditions. Some of these conditions are that your vehicle weighs more than 10,001 pounds or has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of more than 10,001 pounds. The FMSCA meal breaks also apply to you if you can or you do transport 16 or more passengers but don’t charge for it, your vehicle is supposed to move 9 or more passengers and the driver gets paid for it, or that you move enough hazardous materials to require placards. The number of passengers always includes the driver.

    Of course, it is hard to track a trucker’s hours. The FMCSA will count a half-hour lunch as being taken even if the driver has a pager or phone on him or her, and employers have to rely on employees accurately recording how they spent their time.  

What Do You Do If Your Rights Have Been Violated?

If your employer is refusing to pay you overtime when you are entitled to it under California law, you should contact the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement. If you qualify for overtime under the federal law, definitely contact the Department of Labor. Both have websites that have ways to report the problem and file a complaint. A great idea would be to contact a lawyer that specializes in employment law. Delivery drivers have complicated schedules and difficult cases. Having expert legal help will make it easier to decide on what to do next.

Fortunately, Aiman-Smith & Marcy, a small-medium sized law firm, can help. We specialize in employment law, class actions, and consumer fraud.