High Court Hands CA Truckers Second Win in 2015

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In a victory for truck drivers throughout California, the U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to review a Ninth Circuit ruling finding that California’s meal and rest break laws are not preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (“FAAAA”). Dilts v. Penske Logistics, LLC, 769 F.3d 637 (9th Cir. Cal. 2014) (cert. denied by Penske Logistics LLC v. Dilts, 2015 U.S. LEXIS 2990 (U.S. May 5, 2015)).

This news should come as no surprise to transportation companies operating in California. While Penske insists in its petition for certiorari that the Dilts ruling is “rogue” and not in keeping with precedent, it is fully consistent with recent Ninth Circuit and California Supreme Court opinions on this issue—including Campbell v. Vitran Express Inc., No. 12-56250 (9th Cir. July 9, 2014), which was related to Dilts, and People ex rel. Harris v. Pac Anchor Transportation, Inc., 59 Cal. 4th 772 (Cal. 2014) (previously covered by the ILJ here and here).

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court also declined to review Harris v. Pac Anchor (see 2015 U.S. LEXIS 1326 (U.S., Feb. 23, 2015)), which held that California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) is not preempted by the FAAAA, and that motors carriers are therefore subject to injunctive relief under the UCL. Harris and Dilts share a similar fact pattern and reasoning, and, in both cases, the respective courts held that California labor and employment laws are not significantly related to and/or do not significantly affect motor carrier price rates, routes, or services, and therefore are not the types of state laws Congress set out to preempt when enacting the FAAAA. See Harris at 785, Dilts at 650.

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and California Supreme Court have all definitively ruled on this issue, perhaps employers will cease their fruitless attempts to circumvent state labor law in this manner.