Drivers

Kansas Court Rules in Favor of Furniture Company on Driver Status

February 19, 2010

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A Kansas Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Nebraska Furniture Mart, ruling that NFM was not an "employer" as defined by the Kansas Minimum Wage and Maximum Hours Law, and had no obligation to pay the truck drivers
or helpers overtime pay.

"On the surface this sounds like it is a bad deal for truck drivers but in reality it ensures uniformity under the Motor Carriers Act and helps regulate interstate commerce," said Anthony J. Romano, Polsinelli Shughart's Labor and Employment vice chair and lead trial counsel on behalf of NFM. "In the trucking industry if you incent people to work more hours than the regulations allow, you have a danger issue. There is a reason this industry is regulated by the Secretary of Transportation. You can't have truckers driving unlimited hours. This is the policy that the Kansas legislature intended to promote in enacting the language of the KMWMHL."

The case was a class action filed by a truck driver against the Ford Moving & Storage Company and NFM. The truck driver was contracted to make deliveries to NFM's customers.

NFM's attorneys argued that the Kansas Minimum Wage and Maximum Hours Law did not apply to the company because it was "subject to" the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The KMWMHL specifically excludes from its definition of "employer" any "employer who is subject to the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act."

In response, the plaintiff's attorney referred to the Kansas Supreme Court opinion in Dollison v. Osborne County, which held that if an employee is exempt from the FLSA's overtime provisions, then the KMWMHL operates to "fill the void" in favor of the employee receiving overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 46 hours in a week.

In this case, the plaintiff conceded that he was exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA pursuant to the Motor Carrier Exemption. However, because the KMWMHL does not contain a similar exemption, plaintiff argued that he was entitled to overtime under the KMWMHL.

However, Honorable Judge Daniel A. Duncan in the Wyandotte County District Court, affirmed Romano's argument and ruled in favor of Nebraska Furniture Mart.


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