Hours of service requirements are a big deal for trucking companies. The penalties for violations can be significant – up to $16,000 per violation. Violations will also impact a trucking company’s safety score, impacting their insurance premiums. At the same time, compliance with hours of service requirements involves significant office work and record-keeping, which also cost money.
Action over cases have become increasingly common over the past two decades. These cases involve employees collecting worker’s compensation from their employer, and then suing a third party that caused their injuries through negligence who had a contractual indemnity clause with the employer that covers the lawsuit. The prevalence of these suits have led insurance companies to take action by issuing new endorsements aimed at protecting themselves.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration uses Compliance Safety and Accountability scores to assess the safety of trucking companies and target the most at-risk companies for additional interventions. The CSA scores are composed of seven BASICs (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) which attempt to use data available to the FMCSA to pinpoint trucking companies with inadequate safety procedures.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was created in 2000 to reduce the number of crashes involving large trucks and tractor trailers. The FMCSA tackles this approach in a number of different ways. Some of those ways involve issuing regulations and enforcing those regulations with civil penalties. But the FMCSA also a mandate to issue educational trainings to carriers and truck drives aimed at improving road safety.
The Fair Labor Standards Act sets national standards for wage and hour issues related to employees. The law empowers the Department of Labor to set eligibility standards for overtime pay as well as a series of exemptions for it. Employees who qualify for overtime under the law receive time-and-a-half pay for hours worked more than forty hours a week. Time-and-a-half pay is a 50% increase to the employee’s “regular rate of pay.”
Trucking regulators at the U.S. Department of Transportation have searched for better ways to enforce to hours of service requirements for quite some time. When electronic logging devices first became widespread, many people at the National Transportation Safety Board viewed them as great ways to reduce accidents and save lives through improved enforcement of existing regulations. Now, a new study was released that throws that logic into question.
Trucking companies got terrible news from the Supreme Court recently on the employment practices front. The Court invalidated the use of mandatory arbitration and waiver of class action lawsuits in the trucking industry. The ruling came despite numerous rulings in recent years upholding the validity of these practices outside the trucking world and was rendered unanimously.
High cost for Businesses Misclassification
California continues its aggressive moves to protect truck drivers and crack down on misclassification of workers as independent contractors. The California Labor Commission opened 2019 by awarding 24 drivers who work at the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach almost six million dollars in compensatory damages in two separate. Additionally, the Labor Commission held the manager of the 24 drivers personally liable under California law for the damages. The decision is major sign of California’s ongoing intent to crack down on these issues.
Developments over the last few years in federal labor law have generated a lot of discussion and analysis. Regulations and decisions affecting joint employer liability and the definition of employees at the federal level obviously draw the attention of employers. Its easy to overlook though that each state is often free to establish their own standards and tests for determining these questions; those standards may sometimes conflict with federal law.
The classification of workers as independent contractors or employees continues to draw aggressive state action. These classifications can significantly impact a host of employment-related areas, but the reason why states involve themselves so much in these determinations often center around taxation issues. To this end, New Jersey recently updated its regulations to make it significantly harder for companies seeking an exemption from unemployment taxes to classify their workers as independent contractors, and it will have a big impact on trucking companies.