Supreme Court Upholds California Driver Break Rules

May 05, 2015

By David Cullen

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Ruling stems from class-action suit brought earlier by Penske Logistics drivers in California. Image: Penske
Ruling stems from class-action suit brought earlier by Penske Logistics drivers in California. Image: Penske

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied motions filed by trucking companies seeking to overturn the lower court ruling that upheld a California statute requiring a paid 10-minute rest break every four hours and a paid 30-minute meal period every five hours for truck drivers.

Both petitions, Penske Logistics, LLC v. Dilts (Docket 14-801) and Vitran Express, Inc. v. Campbell (Docket 18-89), for a review hearing on last July’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rulingwere denied by SCOTUS on Monday.

The Ninth Circuit Court had found that the California law requiring the rest and meal breaks does not violate a 1994 federal law.

That ruling reinstated a class action lawsuit brought by nearly 350 drivers paid to pick up and deliver appliances for Penske Logistics. The plaintiffs claimed they often worked more than 10 hours per day and were required or encouraged to take unpaid breaks.

In seeking review of the appellate court ruling, Penske Logistics had contended that the California law is preempted by a 1994 federal statute that prohibits states from enforcing laws “related to a price, route or service of any motor carrier” transporting property.

In the Ninth Circuit’s 3-0 ruling, Judge Susan Graber found that paid break periods are “normal background rules for almost all employers doing business in the state.”

Indeed, it should be noted that all the rulings thus far in this matter pertain only to intra-California commerce.


  1. 1. Mike Broaddus [ May 05, 2015 @ 05:09PM ]

    This decision is LONG overdue. Truck drivers have been denied many rights of employees in other industries including overtime, paid breaks and reasonable lunch periods for many decades. While other jobs have progressed, trucking work rules have remained stagnant for 70+ years while regulations only became more restrictive on drivers.

    These companies should be ashamed of themselves. The ONLY reason they seek to keep drivers wages and work rules supressed is their own greed, and laziness to require more from their shippers to adequately compensate for services.

    Chalk one up for the good guys!

  2. 2. Tom McDermeit [ August 07, 2015 @ 09:27PM ]

    I like being allowed to take a meal break if I need one. I HATE being told that I must take a lunch break before the end of the 5th hour when I do not want one. I usually would rather get home a half hour earlier. Meal breaks should be optional and flexible on when it is taken.


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