Ruling of California Supreme Court: Federal Aviation Authorization Act Does Not Preempt California Meal and Rest Break Claims

A recent decision by the California Supreme Court will affect truck drivers throughout California. The finding that the Federal Aviation Authorization Act does not preempt California meal and rest break claims means that any truck driver in or through California is entitled to take a thirty (30) minute uninterrupted meal period prior to their fifth (5th) hour of work. Drivers are entitled to this benefit regardless of the crossing of state lines during their route or the payment of overtime to the driver.

The issue originated with a meal break class action lawsuit filed against Penske Logistics that Penske won at the district court level. The panel of judges held that the meal and rest break laws in California are unrelated to Penske’s “prices, routes or services” and would therefore not be preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994. The appeals court also stated that it was never intended to preempt general state transportation safety, etc.

The meal and rest break law will add costs for motor carriers and motor carriers being affected are, of course, disappointed with the decision. The court defended their ruling stating that the law does not “set prices, mandate or prohibit certain routes, or tell motor carriers what services they may or may not provide, either directly or indirectly.”

The decision is excellent news for truck drivers on California roads.

For more information on California meal and rest break laws, contact your Southern California employment law experts at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.