FMCSA Grants Petition to Preempt Washington Meal and Rest Break Rules. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has granted a petition to preempt the Washington State meal and rest break rules as applied to property-carrying commercial motor vehicle drivers subject to FMCSA’s hours of service regulations. 85 Fed. Reg. 73335 (November 17, 2020). The petition was submitted to the agency by the Washington Trucking Associations.
The preemption determination will likely be challenged in court, as was a similar FMCSA decision on the California meal and rest break rules.
Like California, the Washington rules require a 30-minute meal break for every five hours on duty, and a 10-minute rest break for every four hours on duty. Although the rules apply to all employees, as applied to CMV drivers the FMCSA determined that these rules are State laws on commercial motor vehicle safety that are additional to or more stringent than Federal hours of service regulations and therefore subject to preemption analysis.
The FMCSA concluded that the Washington rules meet all three of the standards for preemption under federal law: (1) they have no safety benefits that extend beyond those that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations already provide; (2) they are incompatible with the Federal HOS regulations; and (3) they cause an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce. A finding that the MRB rules met any one of these standards would be sufficient to preempt them.
Court of Appeals Hears Argument in California Meal and Rest Break Challenge. On November 16, a panel of three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco heard oral arguments from counsel on a challenge to the California meal and rest break rules as applied to property-carrying commercial motor vehicle drivers subject to FMCSA’s hours of service regulations.
In December 2018 the FMCSA determined that the California meal and rest break rules were preempted under federal law because the MRB rules as applied to commercial motor vehicle drivers were regulations on commercial motor vehicle safety. 83 Fed. Reg. 67470 (December 28, 2018). The Teamsters and the California Labor Commissioner filed three separate appeals in federal court, and the cases were consolidated.
Some 20 states in addition to California have meal and rest break requirements that could apply to truck drivers if the FMCSA decision is reversed. In the 2018 preemption determination, the FMCSA said: “According to the National Conference of State Legislators, the following States have meal and rest laws: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.”
The California challenge is the first time the courts have considered whether the FMCSA has properly used its authority in preempting a state meal and rest break rule. The three judges focused their questions on whether the California MRB rule was actually a State law on commercial motor vehicle safety and therefore subject to preemption analysis. The State argued that because the California rules apply to all employees and the State never specifically directed their application to truck drivers, the MRB rules are not “laws on commercial motor vehicle safety.” Rather than having a safety justification, the State argued that the MRB rules were based on employee comfort, human rights and dignity in the workplace.
The court is expected to issue its decision in the next few months.
FMCSA Schedules Q and A Sessions for Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has scheduled a number of live informational webinars designed to help users understand the requirements of the agency’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The presentations will focus on the actions users need to take to comply with the Clearinghouse regulations and requirements in 49 CFR part 382 subpart G—Requirements and Procedures for Implementation of the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.
Interested persons may select the session most relevant to you and register using one of the links below. Because space is limited, FMCSA requests that you register for only one session. A recording of the webinars will be available on the Clearinghouse website at a later date.
- Clearinghouse for Employers and Consortia/Third-Party Administrators (C/TPAs)
Topics will include: Clearinghouse registration, requesting driver consent and conducting queries, and reporting violations.
Tuesday, December 8, 2020, 3:00-4:30 pm ET
Tuesday, December 15, 2020, 10:00-11:30 am ET
- Clearinghouse for Substance Abuse Professionals and Medical Review Officers
Topics will include: Clearinghouse registration, verifying driver information, reporting violations, and entering return-to-duty information.
Wednesday, December 9, 2020, 1:00-2:30 pm ET
Wednesday, December 16, 2020, 10:00-11:30 am ET
- Clearinghouse for CDL Drivers
Topics will include: Clearinghouse registration, verifying CDL information, and responding to employer query requests.
Thursday, December 10, 2020, 10:00-11:30 am ET
Wednesday, December 16, 2020, 2:00-3:30 pm ET
For more information, visit the Clearinghouse Learning Center.