Written by Ravi Sattiraju on April 21, 2018
We often take our breaks for granted. Those who work eight hours a day often get a 30-minute or one-hour lunch break, as well as one or two 10-15 minutes during the day. This does not apply to all professions, though.
Breaks for truckers are complicated because they are bound by both state and federal laws. Those who drive commercial motor vehicles that carry property must follow the laws set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). A law that took effect July 1, 2013, requires that drivers take a rest break during the day under certain circumstances. There are no specific requirements as to when a driver must take a break. However, they must not wait longer than eight hours from the last off-duty period. Those who take breaks already can extend one ito30 minutes to meet the requirements.
While there is a federal law in place, not all states have laws. Of the 50 states, only 17 states have laws requiring meal breaks. New Jersey is not one of these states.
Under federal law, employers must pay for breaks under 20 minutes. A break of 30 minutes or longer is considered a meal break and does not have to be paid by the employer.
So if a truck driver is driving in a state that requires meal breaks, what is stopping them from taking a break? Deadlines. Truck drivers are on strict deadlines. They may have just a matter of hours to get from Point A to Point B. Dispatchers may be calling every few minutes looking for a delivery ETA. This means the truck driver may drive without stopping. They may not even eat for the entire day.
Federal law will not likely step in and help local truck drivers who are paid hourly. Because of the discrepancy between state and federal laws, lawyers face a complicated battle. They have to determine which laws apply based on the location of the truck driver and possibly even the type of driving the driver was doing. There is a fine line when it comes to truck driver labor laws. Some drivers take their cases to court and win. Some don’t.
Work with an Experienced New Jersey Truck Driver Employment Lawyer
Truck drivers often face wage and hour issues because they sometimes work for 10 hours or longer at a time, non-stop. They are often on tight deadlines, so they don’t always take breaks like they should. A lack of breaks, however, can lead to fatigue, distracted driving, and serious accidents.
If you are a truck driver who is confused about federal vs. state labor laws, you’re not alone. But that doesn’t mean you need to deal with it alone. It’s important that you receive the compensation you deserve for working during meals and lunch breaks. Get the legal help you need by contacting the New Jersey employment law attorneys at The Sattiraju Law Firm, PC. We will assess every detail of your case. For more information, schedule a free consultation today by calling (609) 722-7026.