Business Law - Legal Comment
The author, R. Eddie Wayland, is TCA's General Counsel, and a partner with the law firm of King & Ballow. Mr. Wayland frequently speaks and presents seminars throughout the U.S. on legal topics, including labor and employment issues. He also provides in-house training in these areas. He has twice been selected Chairman of the Labor and Employment Section of the Tennessee Bar Association and was founder and editor of the TBA Labor Letter. Among his publications, Mr. Wayland was co-author for Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Guidebook, and was a contributing author for The Developing Labor Law.
- Appeals Court Finds Sexual Orientation Discrimination Prohibited by Title VII
Courts across the country had been in general agreement that sexual orientation by itself did not fall within the classification of sex protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In a recent decision, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit took that step, and held that sexual orientation discrimination constitutes discrimination on the basis of a person’s sex for purposes of Title VII.
- Ninth Circuit Finds Trucking Company Did Not do Enough to Stop Hostile Work Environment
A female truck driver brought a federal law suit against her former employer and one of its male truck drivers for sexual discrimination under California’s Fair Housing and Employment Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as a separate claim for retaliation under Title VII. This article addresses only the Title VII claim for sexual harassment causing a hostile work environment.
- Court Rules No Compensation Due for Time Spent at Carrier’s Orientation Program
In this case, both a federal trial court and a federal appeals court agreed that time spent at a carrier’s mandatory, three-day orientation program was not compensable time.
- Driver’s Race Discrimination Claim Premised on “Cat’s Paw Liability Theory” Fails
A federal appeals court recently issued an opinion arising from a motor carrier’s decision not to hire a driver based on a failed drug test. The case discusses the “cat’s paw” theory of liability, under which the discriminatory animus of a non-decision-maker can nonetheless impose liability on the employer.
- EEOC Sues Carrier for Refusing to Allow Driver to Work with Emotional Support Dog
On March 2, 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit on behalf of a commercial truck driver who was not allowed by a carrier to drive with his emotional support/service dog. This is a developing area of law, and carriers should give this case and others like it their attention.
- Court Finds “Per Diem” Pay Plan Counts Toward Minimum Wage
A large American freight carrier and transportation and logistics company secured a win against a class of its driver employees seeking unpaid minimum wages in Federal Court.
- Court Revises Ruling on Sleeper Berth Issue in Carrier’s Favor
A federal trial court in Nebraska recently revised a previous decision in a case involving the issue of whether time spent by truck driving students in truck sleeper berths needed to be paid by a motor carrier.
- Court Announces New “Joint Employer” Test
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently announced its new test for determining whether a “joint employment” relationship exists for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
- Court Rejects Large Carrier’s Owner-Operator Model
A federal trial court in Arizona recently ruled that contracts professing to be agreements establishing an independent contractor relationship entered into between a large carrier and its purported owner-operators actually constituted contracts of employment. Carriers with similar owner-operator models would be wise to take note of this case.
- Court Upholds FMCSA’s ELD Rule
It appears that the new ELD rule is here to stay. Per the FMCSA, Carriers and drivers who are using paper logs or logging software must transition to ELDs no later than December 18, 2017. Drivers and carriers should familiarize themselves with the rule and be prepared to be in compliance with it by the end of this year.
- Drivers Found to be Employees Rather than Independent Contractors Despite Explicit Contract Language
In this case, the court was asked to review contractor agreements entered into between drivers and a major motor carrier for purposes of determining whether the drivers had to arbitrate the host of employment law claims they are bringing against the motor carrier.
- Drivers Awarded Over $54 million by Federal Jury
A large retail company recently lost a battle with a class of over 800 of its truck drivers when a federal jury in California awarded the class $54,604,181 in an action for unpaid minimum wages.
- Recent Settlement Highlights Legal Issues Associated with Hair Follicle Drug Testing
On November 15, 2016, a prominent motor-carrier settled charges of race, national origin, and religious discrimination for $260,000. The charges at issue involved applicants who requested religious accommodations when confronted with the carrier’s hair-sample drug testing policy.
- Driver Fails in Fair Credit Report Act Reinvestigation Claim
In this case, the driver, who was no longer employed by the carrier, claimed to have trouble finding employment because of a negative remark on a report concerning his driving record published by a consumer reporting agency. The information for the negative remark was supplied to the consumer reporting agency by the carrier. The driver filed a lawsuit concerning the “reinvestigation” done by the carrier to see if the negative remark was accurate.
- Truck Drivers Found Not Exempt From Overtime Requirements
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals found that two trucking companies’ employees were not subject to the Motor Carrier Act (“MCA”) exemption to FLSA overtime requirements and that the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (“PMWA”) applied. The companies, Fast Rig Support and First Americans Shipping and Trucking, failed to “plainly and unmistakably” show that the exemption applied.
- Trucking Company Secures $3.25 Million for Trademark Infringement
This month, a jury awarded a Wisconsin-based tucking company $3.25 million in damages for trademark infringement, unfair business competition, and other charges against a company that owns the controlling interest in several job-board posting websites related to the trucking industry.
- Court Allows Female Truck Driver's Discrimination Claims to Move Forward
A federal appeals court recently vacated the trial court’s dismissal of a female trucker’s employment discrimination claims, holding that the trucker pleaded facts sufficient to state plausible claims of employment discrimination.
- Effective Interactive Process Results in Dismissal of Truck Driver’s Disability Lawsuit
A federal district court in Illinois recently rejected a truck driver’s allegation that his employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
- Motor Carrier Found Liable for $5,890,338.82 in Lost Pharmaceuticals
A federal court in Ohio ruled that a motor carrier had to pay a freight broker $5,890,338.82 pursuant to the terms of the contract between the parties after the shipment of pharmaceuticals that was being transported by the motor carrier was stolen in Tennessee.
- Court: It’s Not Whistleblowing if You Only Report to the Wrongdoer
Tennessee law protects employees from being fired for “whistleblowing.” In a recent decision by the Tennessee Supreme Court, the Court ruled that a whistleblower must report the misconduct to someone other than the wrongdoer, even when the wrongdoer is the head of the employee’s company.
- Court Rules Interacting With Others is a Major Life Activity Under the ADA
A federal appeals court recently ruled that “interacting with others” is a “major life activity” under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This ruling is significant because it opens the door (even wider) to employees qualifying as “disabled” under the ADA. This case also brings into focus the need for employers to document all disciplinary and performance issues of their employees.