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Do Transportation Employees Get Overtime?

November 26th, 2019 Emma O'Connor

The Fair Labor Standards Act transportation(FLSA) mandates employers to pay workers overtime (time and one-half) for all time worked over 40 hours in a workweek.  However, there are a handful of exceptions where overtime laws do not apply to certain types of employees. These workers, known as “exempt” employees, are not entitled to overtime regardless of how many hours they work. The type of work you do and the amount of money that you get paid determines whether or not you are an exempt employee.  There are “white collar” exemptions and job-specific exemptions. This includes employees in the transportation industry like airline employees, motor carriers, railroad employees, taxicab drivers, and local drivers and their helpers. 

Employer and Employee qualifications for the Motor Carrier exemption 

Exemption laws are highly complex, especially for motor carrier employers and employees.  A qualifying motor carrier or private motor carrier employer under the Department of Transportation regulations provides commercial motor vehicle transportation for compensation.  Qualifying motor carrier employees are mechanics, loaders, drivers, or driver’s helpers whose responsibilities affect the safety of vehicles involved in transportation on public highways.  In order to qualify for exemption, these employees must contribute to interstate commerce and delivery.  If they are not regularly involved in interstate commerce, they might still qualify for exemption if their employer is involved in interstate transportation or if they were expected to cross state boundaries at some point in their career. 

Transportation Exemption Exceptions

There are several exceptions to the motor carrier overtime exemption.  

  • If the employee’s motor vehicle weighs less than 10,000 pounds, they do not qualify.  This exemption does not apply if the small vehicle is used to transport 8 passengers, including the driver, for compensation.  It also does not apply if the small vehicle is used to transport hazardous material.  
  • If the employee works for a non-carrier (independent garages, commercial garages, firms that maintain and repair motor vehicles owned and operated by carriers, or firms that lease and rent motor vehicles to carriers) they do not qualify. 
  • If the employee is not directly involved in ensuring the safety of motor vehicles on a regular basis, they do not qualify.  This means that an individual who is responsible for moving equipment around the warehouse but does not actually load any trucksdoes not qualify as exempt.

If employees don’t qualify for even a single stipulation of the motor carrier exemption requirements, they might be entitled to overtime compensation.  While the FLSA is a federal law, remember that states also have rules governing minimum wage and overtime for certain employees. 

Seek Legal Assistance 

If you have been misclassified as an exempt employee in the transportation industry, the Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City, can assist you. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.