January 9, 2019
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced Friday, December 21 that California’s meal-and-rest break rules are preempted by federal hours-of-service regulations.
In 2011, California passed a law requiring employers to provide a “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for employees who work more than five hours a day, as well as a second “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for people who work more than 10 hours a day.
Several industry stakeholder groups filed petitions with the agency asking it to rule that California's rest and break requirements violated federal law and created confusion and undue financial and regulatory burdens on the industry.
FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez said in a video statement that after reviewing comments and petitions from various groups, drivers, fleet owners and concerned citizens his agency was "granting this petition to ensure uniform and consistent rules in order to promote safety and economic growth. Drivers, consumers, and job creators are best served by reliable and consistent rules.”
The agency added the decision was "an important step toward creating a more reliable and consistent regulatory environment for truck drivers."
American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear, whose group was among several to submit petitions challenging California's requirements, said in a statement to his members that he applauds the agency and its senior team for "providing a full, fair and transparent review of ATA’s (and others') petition(s). This decision is a tremendous victory for the trucking industry, bringing our efforts to secure immediate relief for ATA members to a close."
He added, "While today’s determination may be subject to litigation if the trial lawyers or other groups challenge it in court, we are confident that it will withstand judicial review."