Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, many types of workers are not guaranteed overtime pay due to exemptions ranging from computer professionals to sugar processing employees. One of the largest exemptions includes folks working in the over the road transportation industry. However, just because you work in this industry does not mean you are not entitled to overtime, despite what your employer may tell you.
The US Department of Labor states Drivers, driver’s helpers, loaders, or mechanics whose duties affect the safety of operation of motor vehicles in transportation on public highways in interstate or foreign commerce and are not covered by the small vehicle exception. The focus to determine if someone is eligible is overtime is if their work “affects the safety of operation of motor vehicles in transportation on public highways in interstate or foreign commerce” or they are not covered by the “small vehicle exemption”.
The key phrase there is “affect the safety of operation.” How do we determine what is considered to be “affecting the safety of operation?” That is a question that is open for discussion in the courts. Would an individual who loads and unloads a tractor trailer with no official training fall under the exemption? What about someone who merely rides in the motor vehicle? The Department of Labor has stated that when an employee has “no substantial direct effect on “safety of operation,” or where such safety affecting activities are so trivial, casual, and insignificant as to be de minimis” these employees will be entitled to overtime pay. So in other words, just because you load a truck- you are not exempt from receiving overtime.
The focus is on the specific job duties of the employee. For example, a loader may just handle freight, load a truck based on the instructions of his supervisors or a specific plan, or the loading is such a small part of an employees job that they are not exempt under the De Minimum rule.
Also, if you work on, drive, or load a vehicle at any time during the workweek that weighs less than 10,000 lbs- you also may be entitled to overtime as well.
If you think that you have been wrongfully denied your overtime due to wrongful classification then be sure to contact our office. We would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.