Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Jan 21, 2010

No OT for local delivery drivers when product originated out of state


An appeals court recently ruled that truck drivers for a wine distributor were not entitled to overtime, even though their routes were entirely within a single state, because, according to the court, they were the final step in the wines movement in interstate commerce. Employers generally dont have to pay overtime to drivers who operate in interstate commerce (the movement of goods across state lines). Drivers who operate in intrastate commerce (movement of goods within a single state) are generally entitled to overtime. In this case, out-of-state suppliers shipped the wine to the employers warehouse, where the employer paid its drivers to distribute the wine within the state. Some of the wine had been preordered by retail stores and the rest was typically stored in the warehouse for no more than a month before being sold to stores within the state. The wine was not repackaged or altered in any way at the warehouse. The court ruled that the temporary storage in the warehouse was not enough to break the chain of commerce that originated outside the state, so the drivers were working in interstate commerce, even if their routes were exclusively within one state (Collins v. Heritage Wine Cellars, Ltd., 7th Cir, Dec. 2009).

Tips: It can be tricky to determine whether a driver is truly interstate (and therefore exempt from overtime under federal wage and hour law) or intrastate (and entitled to overtime under federal wage and hour law). See our Legal Guide, Motor Carrier Safety Requirements
(3146) for guidance. If your drivers are based in Washington, be aware that state law requires you to pay overtime, regardless of whether or not your drivers operate in interstate commerce.

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.