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Truck Drivers & Overtime

Overtime Pay Laws for Truck Drivers

Drivers who operate large trucks (GVWR over 10,000 lbs) in interstate commerce are generally exempt from the federal overtime pay laws – but see below for specific state laws that differ.  In August 2005, Congress changed the overtime laws for drivers of vehicles with a Gross VehicleWeight Rating of 10,000 lbs or less. Drivers of these vehicles were generally exempt from the federal law prior to August 2005 (if they carried goods across state lines, or if the goods originated out of state). However, now these drivers are not exempt and are covered by the federal overtime law. This means they should be receiving overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week.

This change in the law has had a very significant impact for Route Delivery Drivers (for example, Newspaper Route Drivers and sales managers who oversee drivers but also handle routes) and repair persons (those who carry parts that originated out of state). This change in the law has not been recognized by many employers, who continue to treat drivers of these vehicles as exempt, simply because they are carrying goods which originated out of state.

State Law may Require Overtime

Also note that truck drivers may be entitled to overtime pay under state law, even if they are not under federal law. 

New York state wage law requires employers to pay employees, including those exempt from overtime pay under the federal motor carrier exemption, one and a half times the applicable minimum wage rate (not the workers regular rate). 

The New York Department of Labor issued an opinion letter on this issue and stated  “nothing within the New York Labor Law or the Minimum Wage Orders otherwise excludes [truck drivers] from the definition of “employee”…and, therefore, from the overtime requirements… Accordingly, even if these employees meet the  requirements of the Motor Carrier Exception… they must, under the New York Labor Law, be paid not less than one and one half times the minimum wage rate for all overtime hours worked.”

Under Colorado‘s new Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards (effective 3/16/2020), truck drivers working entirely within the state of Colorado may be entitled to overtime pay  The new Colorado exemption from overtime pay only applies to “an employee who is a driver, a driver’s helper, or a loader or mechanic of a motor carrier, if the employee crosses state lines in the course of his or her work.” So, if such an employee does not actually leave the state of Colorado while working, they are entitled to overtime pay under state law (even though “exempt” under federal law).

The New Mexico Minimum Wage Act does not have an exemption from overtime pay for employees who work for certain motor carriers – this includes interstate commerce drivers who operate vehicles over 10,000 lbs GVWR. This means that certain truck drivers in New Mexico may be entitled to overtime pay, despite being exempt from overtime pay under federal law.

Washington State labor laws require that truck or bus driver (who are covered under the Federal Motor Carrier Act) be paid overtime pay at least reasonably equivalent to that required by Washington’s overtime pay laws. To meet this requirement, an employer may, with notice to a truck or bus driver subject to the provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Act, establish a rate of pay that is not on an hourly basis and that includes in the rate of pay compensation for overtime.

Massachusetts state law regarding overtime pay for truck drivers and others who operate large vehicles is different from the federal law. Only drivers (or helpers) on “trucks” are exempt from overtime pay under the state version of the Motor Carrier Act. This means that drivers of the following types of vehicles are likely entitled to receive overtime pay in Massachusetts – five passenger sedans, five passenger sport utility vehicles, “mini-vans”, limousines, sport utility limousines, eight passenger carrier vans, minibuses, or buses…as “[e]ach of them is designed to carry passengers and not goods, and none hauls a trailer.”

Federal Law – Drivers under the FLSA

Other truck drivers, generally over-the-road drivers, may still be exempt.  The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides an overtime exemption for employees who are regulated by the Department of Transportation.  The exemption applies to employees who are:

  • Employed by a motor carrier or private motor carrier (generally defined as a person providing motor vehicle transportation for compensation or one shipping goods by motor vehicle to further a commercial enterprise)
  • Driver’s helpers, loaders, or mechanics whose duties affect the safety of operation of motor vehicles in interstate commerce
  • Not covered by the small vehicle exception (if the employee drives or works on vehicles that weigh 10,000 pounds or less, the exemption does not apply)

If you believe that you may have a claim or would like to get more information, please call us at 713-782-LAW1 (5291) or 1-866-559-0400, email us at  mlore@overtime-flsa.com or submit your information using our convenient Case Evaluation form.