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By: Thomas Paschos, Esq.
Thomas Paschos & Associates, P.C.
Haddonfield, New Jersey

In Resch v. Krapf's Coaches, Inc., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 7810 (3d Cir. May 12, 2015), Joseph Resch, a driver for Krapf's Coaches, Inc. ("KCI"), filed an action on behalf of himself and thirty-three other KCI drivers ("Plaintiffs") seeking unpaid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 ("FLSA") and the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act of 1968 ("PMWA").

At issue was the Motor Carrier Act of 1935 (the "MCA") exemption that removes from the FLSA's overtime protections "any employee with respect to whom the Secretary of Transportation has [the] power to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service pursuant to the provisions of section 31502 of Title 49" of the MCA. 29 U.S.C. § 213(b)(1). Section 31502(a)(1) applies to transportation "described in" § 13501, which in turn gives the DOT jurisdiction "over transportation by motor carrier . . . to the extent that passengers, property, or both, are transported by motor carrier . . . between a place in . . . a State and a place in another State." 49 U.S.C. § 13501.

Plaintiffs claimed that the motor carrier exemption did not apply to them because they drove only on intrastate routes. The company moved for summary judgment on the ground that the drivers were correctly classified as exempt. The drivers opposed the motion, noting that during the relevant time period they crossed state lines only 178 (1.3%) of their 13,956 trips, that 16 of the 34 drivers never crossed state lines, 8 did so only once, 5 did so fewer than 5 times, and that interstate trips generated only between 1% and 9.7% of the Transit Division's revenue during that time period.

The district court granted summary judgment, holding that to prove the exemption, it did not need to show that each driver traveled interstate, but only that the drivers reasonably could have been expected to cross state lines as part of their employment.

The Third Circuit agreed finding that professional bus drivers cannot collect overtime wages from their employer under the Fair Labor Standards Act because they make interstate trips. The court held the collective action brought by the drivers would be governed by the MCA, not the FLSA, and their claims under the federal labor standards act would fall into the MCA exemption. The court provided:

Two considerations dictate whether the MCA exemption applies: the class of the employer and the class of work the employees perform. Specifically, the MCA exemption applies if the employer is a carrier subject to the DOT's jurisdiction and the employee is a member of a class of employees that 'engage[s] in activities of a character directly affecting the safety of operation of motor vehicles in the transportation on the public highways of passengers or property in interstate or foreign commerce within the meaning of the MCA.

Here, there was no dispute that the company was a motor carrier subject to DOT jurisdiction. The court held that the drivers were members of a class of employees engaging in "activities of a character directly affecting the safety of operation of motor vehicles in the transportation . . . of passengers or property" in interstate commerce. Even though they rarely or never crossed state lines, they were members of a class of employees who reasonably could be expected to do so. Therefore, the court affirmed the holding of the District Court.

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