On May 14, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration updated the rules and regulations related to hours of service requirements for the trucking industry. The FMCSA regulates the numbers of hours in day and week that a truck driver can work and also mandates a certain amount of rest time and days off. These regulations exist to limit the number of serious accidents caused by fatigue involving tractor trailers.
There are many reasons why an employer may want to prevent employees from discussing their wages, salaries, bonuses, or other compensation. Pay disparities - even if based on differences in experience, training, or pay - can disrupt the working environment and lead to unhappy employees. Such discussions may lead to an increase in the number of employees demanding raises and seeking new positions if not granted. In the worst-case scenario, the information can lead to discrimination lawsuits with the high legal fees and detrimental reputation damage that such lawsuits cause.
A significant new regulation regarding the trucking industry has just had its effective date delayed by two years. The Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule was originally scheduled to go into effect on February 7, 2020. Instead, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has pushed back the rule’s implementation to February 7, 2022.
For the past several years, attempts at the federal and state level to clarify rules on joint employment situations have caused considerable heartburn and anxiety for employers. While several states and the Obama administration attempted to broaden the situations in which companies could be held liable for joint employers, other states and the Trump administration have pushed back and sought to protect many types of companies from being held accountable as joint employers.
In the aftermath of California’s aggressive attempts to crack down on the “gig” economy, other states have moved as well, though often in different directions. While many states have moved to pass laws specifically designed to protect the status of “gig” workers, New Jersey is in the process of passing its own attempt to regulate these workers. Indeed, the proposed New Jersey legislation would go so far that it would classify almost all workers in the state as employees and make it incredibly difficult for someone to claim independent contractor status.
It was expected that California’s Assembly Bill 5 passed late last year would spawn tons of litigation. The law radically changed how workers from uber drivers to television show writers were classified. Those negatively impacted by the law aggressively lobbied for changes and exemptions while planning litigation should their lobbying efforts fail.
In most civil cases, courts are careful to ensure that plaintiffs cannot benefit from a double recovery. That is to say, plaintiffs do not get to recover for the same injury twice. The purpose of a negligence lawsuit is to restore a person to the state they were in prior to suffering their injuries by compensating them for those injuries. This is one reason why insurance companies retain rights of subrogation.
As more and more states legalize marijuana use for recreational and medicinal purposes, employers face a significant conundrum. Employers have to decide how to treat positive marijuana tests within their business. For those employers in safety-sensitive fields, ensuring that employees can pass drug tests is necessary for continued operations and limiting liability.
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.