California: Labor Commissioner Challenges Federal Preemption of Meal and Rest Break Rules


All Employers with CA Employee Truck Drivers Subject to HOS Regulations


February 6, 2019


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California Attorney General Xavier Becerra recently announced that the California Labor Commissioner intended to challenge the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMSCA) determination that federal hours of service (HOS) regulations preempt California meal and rest period regulations for property-carrying commercial vehicle drivers. Specifically, the FMSCA announced California meal and rest period regulations were incompatible with federal regulations, disrupted interstate commerce, did not offer any safety benefits beyond that already covered by federal law, and were overly burdensome and difficult to regulate. In response, on February 6th, the California Labor Commissioner filed a petition with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, requesting that the circuit court review and reverse the FMSCA determination.

Certain employers may ask, how does this affect the recent Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Notice of Administrative Determination of Preemption, stating that California’s meal and rest periods are preempted by Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR)? The short answer is, it is difficult to say at this point. The FMSCA notice focused on the HOS regulations, whereas PHMSA’s notice was limited to the HMR. Specifically, the PHMSA notice states that California meal and rest rules create an unnecessary delay in the transportation of goods, and the vehicle attendance requirement (an exemption from the HOS regulations) in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), which was incorporated into the HMR, prohibits hazardous material drivers from complying with both California and federal rules. As a result, PHMSA says California meal and rest rules are preempted.   Ultimately, because there is crossover between the HMR and HOS regulations, employers should consult with legal counsel for any compliance concerns until this matter is sorted out in the courts.

Action Items

  1. Consult with legal counsel on meal and rest period requirements for applicable truck drivers.
  2. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2019 ManagEase

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