Court Upholds FMCSA Exemption of Trucking From California Rest Break Rules

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 2018 determination that interstate motor carriers are exempt from California’s stringent meal-and-rest-break rules.

“The FMCSA reached this conclusion because California required more breaks, more often and with less flexibility as to timing,” the court’s three-judge panel said in its Jan. 15 opinion.

The California law requires employers to provide a “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for employees who work more than five hours a day, as well as a second duty-free, 30-minute meal break for those who work more than 10 hours a day, and additional 10-minute rest periods every four hours. An employer’s failure to provide the required breaks is a misdemeanor under California law.
By contrast, federal law states that except for certain short-haul drivers, a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle driver working more than eight hours must take at least one 30-minute break during the first eight hours, although the driver has flexibility as to when the break occurs.