Federal judge certifies class in California wage lawsuit against Knight Transportation

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line associate editor | 12/4/2018

A California federal judge recently certified a class of more than 4,000 truck drivers in a lawsuit that accuses Knight Transportation of failing to provide meal and rest breaks as required under California law.

U.S. District Court Judge Dale A. Drozd certified the class on Nov. 30 in the Eastern District of California. The lawsuit claims that Phoenix-based Knight Transportation paid class members under a piece-rate system and did not pay them a separate hourly wage to compensate them for rest breaks and for performing nondriving tasks.

According to the lawsuit, which includes Robert Martinez as the lead plaintiff, the class includes all current and former truck drivers employed by Knight Transportation who resided in Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Utah or Colorado and who drove one or more routes of five or more hours entirely within the state of California during the class period of Sept. 30, 2012, through the date of class certification.

The class includes 4,135 current and former non-California resident drivers and continues to grow in number, according to court documents.

Knight Transportation’s attorneys contend that Martinez isn’t a California resident, that none of the putative class members are California residents, and that the class members drive most of their routes outside of California. Knight Transportation also said that it is not based in California and that the class members are not employed full-time in California. Instead, the class members only “temporarily” drive through California while performing deliveries, the defendants said.

The district court opted not to make a decision on Knight Transportation’s arguments and certified the class.

“Whether the laws at issue here apply to the claims of the putative class members does not appear to have been definitively answered by any court,” Judge Drozd wrote. “The parties have devoted a great deal of their briefing to this question. At this stage of the litigation, however, the court need not resolve it. Whether the California laws at issue here apply to trucking routes lasting five hours or more and driven entirely within the state of California – despite the fact that the drivers driving those routes are not California residents, work for a non-California employer, drive most of their routes outside of California, and are not paid in California – is a question of law that can be resolved in a class-wide basis in one fell swoop.

“Resolution of this question would be inappropriate at this stage of the litigation.”

 

 

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