An Update on Dilts v. Penske Logistics

Published December 14, 2015

By Lou Marlin, Esq.

In May 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for certiorari in Dilts v. Penske Logistics, LLC.  The 9th Circuit Dilts decision had reversed the District Court’s determination that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) pre-empted California’s labor laws in connection with state-mandated meal and rest breaks, thus supporting the ongoing litigation of numerous class actions and individual cases brought by intra-state truckers against their employers.

In response to the Supreme Court’ refusal to review the 9th Circuit decision in Dilts, the trucking industry supported a proposed amendment to the 2015 Federal Highway bill pending before Congress.  The proposed amendment, presented by Rep. Jeff Denham of California, would have essentially nullified the Dilts decision, and would have declared that the FAAAA did, in fact, pre-empt state labor laws, and that such pre-emption has always been in effect since the original passage of the Act.  Other provisions of the amendment would have essentially nullified most if not all pending trucking cases similar to Dilts throughout the country.

From the Wall Street Journal:

An amendment to the massive highway funding bill passed last week by the U.S. House targets the California labor laws underpinning many of those legal challenges. The amendment, proposed by Rep. Jeff Denham (R., Calif.) would bar states from applying rules that go beyond federal standards for driver pay.

The amendment is one of dozens affecting trucking and other transportation-related industries that were inserted into the highway bills, as interest groups seize a rare chance to remake regulations. Congress hasn’t passed comprehensive transportation legislation since 2009, and the current bill would likely close the issue for years. 

It appears this brings to an end any dispute over whether or not federal law pre-empts relevant state labor laws that do not directly attempt to impact rates and schedules as was decided by the 9th Circuit.  With this final chapter of the dispute resolved, it is anticipated that numerous employment cases involving truckers (as employees or as independent contractors) can now be expected to move toward resolution.


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