When is “Off-Duty” really “On-Duty”?

Court Rules Some Sleeper Time Must be Paid

When team drivers for Iowa-based CRST complained they were spending too much time in the sleeper berth and not getting paid for it, the First Circuit Court of Appeals listened. The Court ruled that a team driver who is on duty for 24 hours or more must be compensated for any time above eight hours spent in the sleeper berth.

The scenario arose as CRST, using a unique model, utilized team drivers. This model meant that when one team member was driving, the other team member would pass the time in the sleeper berth of the truck during his required ten hours of “off-duty” status under the federal hours of service requirements.

As the court pointed out, given how the HOS requirements work, sometimes a driver in off-duty status would spend up to 16 hours in the sleeper berth. While this arrangement allowed the truck to move up to twenty hours a day, because they were paid by the mile, drivers argued that they were not being compensated for some of the time spent idle in the sleeper berth. Because Department of Labor regulations only allow an employer to exclude an eight-hour sleeping period per day, the court agreed that any time spent in the sleeper berth above eight hours must be compensated to the driver.

This ruling, while very limited, may have a more far-reaching impact. Because the Circuit court held that the Department of Transportation regulations are in place for safety reasons and Department of Labor regulations control wage and compensation questions, there are likely other situations where this question could arise and other conflicts that may need to be solved in favor of paying drivers for time they are not necessarily driving. ICSA will keep you informed on this issue.

The California Diesel Truck Question

06 February 2024

The CARB ACF regulation created state pollution standards for heavy-duty trucks that are much stricter than those established in the federal Clean Air Act.

FMCSA Proposes Increased Flexibility in CDL Testing

06 February 2024

During the COVID-19 pandemic, some state driver licensing offices were closed and state licensing employees absent. To allow licensing to continue during the pandemic, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued several waivers for continued testing and skill evaluation of applicants for commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs).