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California Rest-Break Lawsuit Could Be Postponed After Biden Win

Teamsters argues the next president's administration may repeal a rule that governs California's meal and rest-break laws.

SACRAMENTO, Cal. — Now that Joe Biden has won the 2020 presidential election and is now the President-elect, there is a very high chance that his administration will repeal a rule from the Trump administration that governs California’s meal and rest-break laws (MLB) according to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The Teamster’s argued that the oral arguments scheduled to be heard next Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals should be delayed. The case could very well be moot after Biden takes the office on January 20th. In a motion filed Tuesday, the Teamsters asserted, “In order to avoid unnecessary review of the administration's determination, this Court should either delay oral argument and hold the matter in abeyance. If it does not hold this matter in abeyance, then it should after oral arguments and allow the new administration a reasonable amount of time to either make another determination or weigh in as to its position in this case.”

This would allow for a complete review based upon the position of the current administration as to the preemptive effect of the MRB laws. Under the Trump Administration, the FMCSA, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration granted a petition in 2018 by the American Trucking Association (ATA) and thus ruled that California "could not dictate the work rules for truck drivers by preempting federal regulations that govern federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations."

California’s regulations require that truck drivers stop for a 30 minute break after five hours. The ATA, in partnership with the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association, argued that the rule violated the federal HOS regulations that mandate a 30 minute break after 8 hrs of driving. They contend that the MRB laws In California may require commercial truck drivers to take two 30-minute breaks in their 11 hr driving day when in California. This could create confusion and has led to a number of truckers filing class-action lawsuits stating they have not been allowed to take their 30-minute break after 5 hrs.

The WTA, WAshington Trucking Associations, have petitioned the FMCSA to make a similar preemption ruling in regards to the state of Washington's MRB law’s. This petition, filed in October of 2019 for a 30 day public comment period, is still pending. 

The Teamsters acknowledged that the federal appeals courts disfavor postponing oral arguments, and when they do the request must be made within 14 days of the hearing date.They appealed the FCMSA’s decision in February of 2019. They pointed out that in this case the 2020 election results were not known until Saturday, when major news services called the election. As such they state that the motion has been filed at the earliest opportunity after the dramatic changes in the circumstances.


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