Compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act can be critical for every employer to avoid costly litigation. The Act’s requirements and exemptions regarding overtime pay are often a minefield, littered with opportunities to misclassify employees and create conflict affecting your bottom line. The Motor Carrier Exemption is one such potential landmine which must be understood, so that it is used properly.
Motor carrier exemption
The FLSA mandates that employers pay overtime to employees who work more than 40 hours per week, but it also provides quite a few exemptions to this general rule. The Motor Carrier Exemption is aimed primarily at the trucking industry, but it can be implicated by any business involved in shipping goods or materials.
The threshold issue is whether or not the employer is a motor carrier or private motor carrier. Any person who provides transportation for compensation is deemed a motor carrier, whereas a person who generally ships their own cargo is considered a private carrier. For the exemption to apply, the entity must be either a motor carrier or private motor carrier.
If the employer is a carrier, the exemption only applies to certain employees. Drivers, helpers, loaders and mechanics can all be exempt from the FLSA requirements but their duties must impact the safety of the vehicle. For instance, an employee who simply moves materials or equipment around a warehouse, but does not actually load a truck, would not be considered an exempt employee. And even if the individual occasionally loads a truck, it may not be frequently enough to qualify them for the exemption. The details of an employee’s job duties can greatly impact whether the exemption applies. As such, it is important to have the circumstances reviewed by a knowledgeable employment lawyer.
There is also an interstate commerce requirement to the Motor Carrier Exemption. Although not every trip must be across state lines, a driver who rarely or never drives interstate will not be considered an exempt employee. Furthermore, the exemption does not apply to vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less.