California may struggle with its Ninth Circuit bid to invalidate the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) recent decision that the state’s meal and rest break rules are preempted by federal law and cannot be enforced against interstate trucking companies.
As the federal safety regulator for the commercial motor vehicle industry, DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) decided that California’s meal and rest break rules conflicted with federal rules. It may be difficult for California and the Teamsters to unravel FMCSA’s conclusion, given the deference that courts typically give to government agencies. However, the Ninth Circuit can be unpredictable.
McCarter partner Rob Leibman provided insight on these dynamics of California state law. “You have two competing things here: California made a state law that applies to all employees there, and California tends to be protectionist of employees,” he said. “Congress gave the FMCSA, the DOT, the sole right to make determinations on motor carrier safety and interstate transport. And so the question is will the court find compelling enough the arguments of the state and the Teamsters to find that they can overturn a decision in the area of safety when Congress has given the right to make those determinations solely to the FMCSA.”