The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is poised to decide whether, and to what extent, long-haul trucking companies must pay drivers for time spent in sleeper berths while the trucks are on the road. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) generally requires that these workers be paid minimum wage for “working time.” Whether “working time” includes drivers’ time spent in the sleeper berth of the moving truck is the crux of the appeal.
In Montoya v. CRST Expedited, Inc., et al., the defendant trucking company employed “team drivers,” who took turns driving long-distance trips, alternating between the driver’s seat and sleeper berths. To satisfy U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rules, the drivers’ shifts are limited in duration and the drivers must take prolonged breaks from driving. The trucking company did not include sleeper berth time in their employees’ “working time,” which according to the plaintiff workers caused their compensation to fall beneath the FLSA’s minimum wage. A since-rescinded Department of Labor (DOL) opinion letter from 2019 stated that the sleeper berth time was not compensable. According to the plaintiff-drivers and the DOL as amicus, the opinion letter upended the agency’s long-standing interpretation of the FLSA and contradicted the agency’s regulations.
The case was heard by a panel of the First Circuit on May 4, and a decision is expected within the next several months.