Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Aug 22, 2013

Overtime exemption for truck driver depends on vehicle weight rating, not load weight

Wage and Hour 

Driving a truck with a light load weighing 10,000 pounds or less doesn’t necessarily entitle the driver to overtime, ruled a federal court of appeals. 

Driving a truck with a light load weighing 10,000 pounds or less doesn’t necessarily entitle the driver to overtime, ruled a federal court of appeals. What matters is how heavy a load the vehicle is rated to carry.  If the truck has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of at least 10,001 pounds, then the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)’s normal requirement to pay overtime after 40 hours of work in a week doesn’t apply. Instead, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is in charge. DOT doesn’t require overtime pay, but it does impose strict limits on daily and weekly hours of service for drivers of commercial motor vehicles. In this case, a driver for the Disabled American Veterans said the loads he picked up were light enough that his truck weighed less than 10,000 pounds, so he ought to get overtime. The court said it would be too confusing to switch back and forth with overtime eligibility depending on the weight of a particular load. Instead, employers are entitled to rely on the manufacturer’s GVWR, which is marked on the truck (McCall v. Disabled American Veterans, 8th Cir, July 2013).

Tips: Another requirement for DOT to have jurisdiction over the driver’s work hours, is that the driver must operate in interstate commerce (e.g., crossing state lines or carrying a product that is destined for a customer in another state).  For more information, or for an overview of DOT requirements for employing truck drivers, see our Legal Guide, “Motor Carrier Safety Requirements” (3146). Employers in Washington should also keep in mind that the state’s overtime law doesn’t offer an exemption for DOT-regulated truck drivers.

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