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Driver issuesNewsTruckingTrucking Regulation

Ninth Circuit denies rehearing of Walmart sleeper berth case (with video)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has denied a petition by Walmart Inc. [NYSE: WMT] to rehear a lower court’s decision that awarded $54.6 million to former California truck drivers for time spent in a sleeper berth during layovers between trips.

Walmart had requested both a panel hearing and a rehearing en banc — typically by a chief judge and 10 additional judges — which were both denied.

“The full court has been advised of the petition for rehearing en banc and no judge has requested a vote on whether to rehear the matter en banc,” according to the 9th Circuit’s decision on Thursday. “The petition for panel rehearing and the petition for rehearing en banc are denied.”

The American Trucking Associations, the California Trucking Association, CRST Expedited Inc. and U.S. Xpress Inc. [NYSE: USX] had supported Walmart’s petition, filed in January, through an amicus brief filed Jan. 31. The four supporters of Walmart’s petition “have a strong interest in the outcome of this case, which has major implications for the treatment of time that drivers spend off-duty in a truck’s sleeper berth under California wage law,” according to the brief.

Walmart’s attorneys had argued that the jury in the lower court was instructed to follow “narrow” language in the retailer’s pay manual to determine if it was exercising control over the drivers even during nondriving times. The petition came two weeks after the appeals court’s three-judge panel upheld the lower court’s decision that found drivers involved in a class-action suit were entitled to back wages under California law.

ATA’s brief warned of “far-ranging implications” if a rehearing isn’t granted, predicting it would “usher in a massive new wave of minimum wage litigation,” with lower courts struggling to deal with the implications of the ruling.

“Every motor carrier has an obligation — both to the motoring public and to its customers — to impose some conditions on drivers before they go off-duty, such as requiring that the driver park the truck in a safe, secure, and legal location before beginning an off-duty period elsewhere,” they state. “No motor carrier would expect that such minor, routine limitations on drivers’ ability to unilaterally go off-duty would represent the kind of control that renders the off-duty time compensable.”

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John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.

17 Comments

  1. Noble1 suggests SMART truck drivers should UNITE & collectively cut out the middlemen from picking truck driver pockets ! UNITE , CONQUER , & PROSPER ! IMHO says:

    quote :

    “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has denied a petition by Walmart Inc. [NYSE: WMT] to rehear a lower court’s decision that awarded $54.6 million to former California truck drivers for time spent in a sleeper berth during layovers between trips.”

    YEEEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAAAA ! Now that’s JUSTICE FOR TRUCK DRIVER “EMPLOYEES” !

    IMHO !

      1. Noble1 suggests SMART truck drivers should UNITE & collectively cut out the middlemen from picking truck driver pockets ! UNITE , CONQUER , & YOU'LL PROSPER ! IMHO says:

        It’s a California case under California jurisdiction which concerns California labour laws .

        IMHO

  2. WOOOOHOOOO!!! GREAT NEWS FOR THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY. THIS WILL SET NEW PRESEDEN FOR AT LEAST FAIR COMPENSATION FOR DRIVERS!!! I AM CURRENTLY INVOLVED WITH THE CLASS ACTION SUIT AGAINST C.R.S.T!! AND CRST HAS LOST FOOTING. ALL IM WAITING ON IS THE ACCOUNTANTS WORKING WITH MY LEGAL TEAM TO CRUNCH #S AND MAIL OUT THE COMPENSATION. IT MAY NOT BE MUCH AT ALL, BUT THINGS ARE CHANGING!!!😛😜🍻🍺

    1. If this is true and you hired a good firm then they should have told you to not post anything on fb about it dummy also no talking about it to fellow employees

  3. Nice article, great idea in mind, but…
    Many recent laws and regulations look to be putting small carriers out of business and it start to look like bigger trucking companies are wiping out small competitors to gain more drivers for themselves..
    Got to think about how will the big players treat their drivers once the competition will be wiped out? I don’t think it will be nice then…

    1. Sure. Just like deregulation of the ‘70s, Nationwide implementation of the Commercial Drivers License, changes to the 5 hour on 5 hour off sleeper berth provision, implementation of the 11 and 14 hour duty rules, the 10 hour break, 34 hour restart, the AOBRD and ELDs were ALL a plot by the USDOT and FMCSA to put ALL of the small companies AND especially the owner operator completely and forever out of business before they knew it….🙄😆😂😂🤣🤣🤣

  4. Umm now that completely voids off duty time as I understand it. Isn’t the whole deal with it being your doing things your not being paid for that classifys it as such?!

  5. Noble1 suggests SMART truck drivers should UNITE & collectively cut out the middlemen from picking truck driver pockets ! UNITE , CONQUER , & YOU'LL PROSPER ! IMHO says:

    Furthermore the gentleman on the right in the video above is greatly mistaking at 2:45 when he states that the carrier is not forcing the driver to be in the sleeper berth , regulations are .

    Yes & no .

    Yes sleeping in the sleeper berth is REQUIRED BY THE EMPLOYER and part of the job under carrier/employer control if you’re an OTR “employee” .

    No regulations do not force nor require a driver to sleep in the sleeper berth .

    Regulations on the other hand simply state and enforce that the driver must be off duty 10 hours . Regulations do not force the driver to “sleep” in the truck/sleeper berth , the employer does based on the way they have structured their truck(s) to haul over a specific route to a specific destination .

    Regulations imply that you must not be “on duty” during 10 hours , not where you must be or where you must be sleeping during those 10 hours . I can be sleeping in a motel or at home while following federal regulations to be off duty and still be legit .

    Herein lies the argument based on semantics . Labour laws are implying that while under employer control you’re on duty due to being required to do something by your employer . Federal regulations state that your on duty “time” is limited to 14 hours .

    HOS simply need to be extended to incorporate employer control time over an employee .

    An OTR driver is under an employer’s control 24 hours per day in the course of their “job” requirement based on the way the “employer” organized that “employment structure” .

    Now in order to assure that while under an employer’s control one does not violate “on duty” allowable 14 hour work period regulations as we currently established them , we must label them separately but obligated to inscribe them specifically , just as we’re currently doing but add in control time. . Example : Are you under employer control while awake or while asleep , or during a layover ?

    If you’re under employer control while awake but not during a layover , then you’re considered to be “on duty” within the 14 hour regulated work period , breaks included . If you’re under an employer’s control while sleeping or a layover , then you’re not considered to be “on duty” per se within the 14 hour regulated allowable work period, but under control and should be compensated x amount for being under employer control while “off duty” according to the 14 hour allowable regulated “work period” . That “x amount” under an employer’s control could be compensated according to labour laws .

    However , due to semantics “on duty regulated allowable work period of 14 hours compensation” will add on and incorporate all hours under employer control .

    Therefore , if such a work structure were to be based on 8 regular hours per work day in a 24 hour period to be compensated as regular hours , and any time over that 8 hour period within the same 24 period under an employer’s control to be compensated at time and a half , the OTR employee would be paid 8 hours at the “regular” rate and 16 hours at time and a half .

    We abolish the per mile method of payment and replace it with an hourly rate .

    The objective would be to eliminate sleeper trucks for reefer & dry vans at first by creating three OTR 8 hour shifts with maintenance facilities at drop off yards within those time intervals to easily integrate autonomous trucks to replace OTR drivers .

    I’ve written about this before . In this way there is no need to pay overtime , nor control drivers while “off duty” , and eliminate the lack of parking problem .

    They’ll have to restructure due to autonomous cargo vehicles anyways .

    In my humble opinion .

  6. The way I understand it you most definitely have to record on duty not driving for any compensation of any type including fixing your mother in laws washing machine Sunday after church. Yep you are absolutely correct.

  7. I just wonder how much the guys on the video on top of this ad is betting paid? Of course they are taking Walmart’s side, just like Walmart they think just because they say so that’s the way the law should read. But WRONG WRONG WRONG!! They don’t know what kind of control Walmart had over the drivers. And as a former Walmart driver I can honestly say the courts made the absolute RIGHT decision on this case. It’s time for Walmart to step up and pay the drivers the pay they have coming!

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