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California’s Meal and Rest Breaks Don’t Apply to Local Drivers Hauling Interstate Goods

A California appellate court has confirmed — in Espinoza v. Hepta Run, Inc. — that California meal and rest breaks do not apply to short-haul, property-carrying truck drivers in interstate commerce.

The decision stems from the seniority (“preemption”) of federal law over state regulation in certain settings.  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued “hours of service” (HOS) regulations for truck drivers limiting how long they may drive and what breaks are required.  California has much stricter meal and rest breaks requirements for drivers under Labor Code § 226.7 and Wage Order 9.

The Espinoza court confirmed those FMCSA HOS rules rendered the California standards unenforceable even for HOS-covered “short-haulers.”

Take-Away:  The decision is not a “free-pass” on California’s break rules for all truck drivers. Companies involved in short haul trucking should closely examine and verify their drivers are subject to the HOS rules before reaching that conclusion. For instance, the HOS regulations do not apply to all sizes of trucks. A management-side employment attorney can assist in navigating this determination.

For further information, please contact Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

See also:

Helena Kobrin
February 11, 2022

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