Over the road, commercial truck drivers are often misclassified as an independent contractors and denied minimum wage. Transportation companies often employ drivers and make them think they are independent contractors because they signed an agreement. The agreement usually has language that labels the driver as an independent contract and a truck lease. When it comes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the courts do not look at the independent contractor contract. Instead, the courts look at factors such as the economic reality tests. It’s basically an analysis to see if a driver is really an employee.
Common Minimum Wage Violation Number 1: Flat rate pay to attend Orientation classes
It is not unusual for trucking companies to require new drivers to attend an orientation that lasts one week that lasts 9 – 12 hours a day. Not only do new drivers have to attend orientation, but they are also required to meet with trainers and company representatives to discuss the rules and procedures outside of class. After all, not every class curriculum contains all the updated rules and procedures that the company wants you to know.
The problem is that orientation pay is usually pretty low. We are talking $350-400 a week. Theis means the hourly rate is less than $7.25 an hour. This is a minimum wage violation.
Common Minimum Wage Violation Number 2: No pay while waiting for cargo.
The customer may not always have the cargo ready to load when a driver shows up for the pick-up. That wait time is often not paid. This results in a minimum wage violation.
Common Minimum Wage Violation Number 3: No pay while waiting for cargo to be loaded or unloaded
It’s pretty simple if you think about it. Drivers are asked to wait in their truck at the dock or loading station while the loading crew carefully load and strap down the cargo. The clock is ticking but the drivers are not paid.
When drivers arrive at the delivery point, they often have to wait in their truck as a long line of trucks is unloaded. Can you imagine how angry the dock workers or other drivers would be if a driver leaves his or her truck while parked in line or at the dock?
Common Minimum Wage Violation Number 4: Truck drivers have to sleep in the truck while stopped overnight to protect the truck and the cargo.
Truck drivers are expected to stay with and in their truck when it’s stopped overnight to log time in the sleeper berth. The reason for this is to protect the truck and the cargo. Rest Sops and truck stops usually start to fill up with trucks between 6 pm to 9 pm. When a trucker does not have a place to park and is running out of time, they often park on the off ram or side street to log some sleep time. They can’t leave the truck because they have to watch it and leave if the area becomes unsafe for them or their truck and cargo.
The bottom line, is trucking companies pay drivers by the miles and not by the hour. You can see how the numerous time drivers spend with their trucks without pay can give rise to class action minimum wage lawsuits.