La Sher Oil wage and hour lawsuit heating up

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, August 09, 2012

After two former drivers filed a wage and hour lawsuit against their former employer, the attorney representing La Sher Oil Co. filed a motion in federal court last week to have the case dismissed.

Rusty Byrne is with the Byrne Law Firm in Little Rock, AR, which is representing La Sher. He told Land Line recently that he filed the motion to have the case dismissed. The case doesn’t meet the standards set forth under the Fair Labor Standards Act because the drivers had intrastate-only routes. 

However, John Holleman of the law firm, Holleman and Associates, which is representing the drivers, told Land Line that La Sher’s motion to dismiss is baseless.

On Monday, his firm filed a response in opposition to La Sher’s motion to dismiss, stating that the drivers are subject to the FLSA because La Sher’s operating revenues exceed $500,000, which is the threshold for companies under FLSA.

In mid-July, Jeff Boyer and John Laureano, both of Pulaski County, AR, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division in Little Rock against La Sher Oil and its owner, Roger Mason. They alleged that they were forced to drive more than 80 hours per week, but they were misclassified as salaried employees and were paid for only 40 hours.

According to court documents, Boyer and Laureano both worked as intrastate truck drivers for La Sher, a bulk fuel and oil wholesaler located in North Little Rock, from August 2011 to May 2012.

During their employment, both drivers allege they were forced to work 12 to 15 hours per day and another six to 10 hours every other weekend.

Holleman said recently that the drivers were misclassified and should have been paid overtime for the additional hours they drove.

“A huge percentage of truck drivers have no protection under either state or federal wage and hour laws,” Holleman said.

He said that interstate drivers are exempt from overtime, according to the Motor Carrier Exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act, but that both Boyer and Laureano were intrastate-only drivers.

“The exemption is usually only available for motor carriers traveling in interstate commerce, not intrastate commerce as we have in this case,” Holleman said. “Our clients were driving in excess of 80 hours weekly. They are owed huge amounts of overtime.”

Byrne said La Sher’s policy “is that we follow all of the rules and regulations we are required to follow.”

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website, La Sher listed that it was an interstate carrier in its carrier registration, which was updated in November 2011.

The lawsuit states that the drivers “confronted La Sher about its practice of requiring them to work far in excess of 40 hours per week without additional compensation on many occasions,” but that the company allegedly “failed and refused to change its pay practices.”

The drivers stated in the lawsuit that their pay was docked for missing days or partial days because they were classified as exempt employees.

Boyer and Laureano are seeking the back pay they say they are owed, plus liquidated damages equal to their unpaid compensation, plus interest, and their attorney fees paid.

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