- J.B. Hunt has agreed to pay a $15 million settlement to a class of intermodal and regional drivers, as a result of a 10-year-old class-action lawsuit that alleges the carrier violated California's labor rules around hours of service (HOS) and pay, reported Commercial Carrier Journal.
- In the 2007 case, Ortega v. J.B. Hunt, the plaintiffs claimed that the carrier denied them meal and rest breaks required by law and did not pay them for tasks performed outside the truck cab.
- J.B. Hunt appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to have the case thrown out, but the court declined to hear it. Without the settlement, the parties would have been headed to court later this year.
Hours-of-service regulations are a contentious issue in the era of the electronic logging device (ELD), but it is important to note that this case began long before the 2017 mandate.
Still, since ELDs became mandatory, changing labor laws to allow for more flexibility with meal and rest breaks has been an objective of many industry groups since the devices make these laws more enforceable.
California has some of the strictest HOS laws. The state requires drivers (and all hourly employees) to take a 30-minute meal break for every five hours worked on shifts longer than six hours, and a 10-minute rest break every four hours worked.
Last month, The American Trucking Associations (ATA) sent a petition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) claiming California's meal and rest break regulations for truck drivers contradict federal law, and arguing that a lack of flexibility decreases safety and could negatively affect commerce in the state.
The day after the ATA submitted its letter, 12 members of Congress wrote to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao encouraging the department to review meal and rest break requirements nationwide.
Though this settlement is 10 years in the making, the timing is inconvenient for J.B. Hunt since the company's second-quarter earnings results will be released next week.