Court dismisses truckers' action in California meal-break case

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Federal courts dealt a blow to delivery drivers in California who claimed the company they worked for pressured them to work through meal breaks and without accounting for the additional time on their paychecks. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled against the truckers by dismissing their class action.

The plaintiffs, led by a group of delivery drivers for Performance Food Group Inc., in a case titled Henry Esquivel et al. v. Vistar Corp., said their employer failed to provide off-duty meal breaks as required under California law, and failed to compensate them for the extra time they worked.

“Plaintiffs claim that they were prevented from taking meal breaks because of the time pressure that they were under to make deliveries by a certain time of day,” U.S. District Court Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen wrote Feb. 8 in the case description.

Judge Nguyen ended up ruling against the truckers, however, saying the federal law known as the FAAAA, or the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, overrules the meal-break law in California.

The judge wrote in her decision that the FAAAA allows certain competitive market forces to trump specific considerations to employees. The decision granted a motion by the defendant company to dismiss the truckers’ class action.

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