Court of Appeals Rules Maine Truck Drivers Not Overtime Exempt

U.S. Court of Appeals Rules Maine Truck Drivers Not Overtime Exempt Under State Law

AGUSTA — An unpaid overtime class action lawsuit is making headlines after a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that a comma, or rather a lack thereof, in a Maine state labor law at the center of the claim may entitle certain truck drivers to overtime wages. The plaintiffs, a group of dairy truck drivers, filed their lawsuit over three years ago over what the group alleged was an intentional job misclassification to avoid paying workers one and a half times their regular rate of pay for overtime wages.

While most workers in the U.S. are entitled to overtime wages when they work more than 40 hours per week, some employees may be paid a flat salary, by piecemeal, or by another metric that does not include time and a half. In Maine, state laws exempt certain employees working in the canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

  • Agricultural produce;
  • Meat and fish products; and
  • Perishable foods.

Until recently, employers interpreted the law to read that truck drivers working in “the distribution of” dairy products to fall under the law’s exemptions. However, the plaintiffs challenged the reading, asserting the lack of a comma between “packing for shipment or distribution” to mean only those loading trucks were exempt, not the actual drivers.

Court’s Opinion Sends Case Back Down to District for Consideration

 In its opinion, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the plaintiffs, holding that the lack of an Oxford comma meant truck loaders, and not truck drivers, were exempt from overtime. Attorneys for the defense argued that the state’s very own Legislative Drafting Manual which specifically instructs lawmakers to draft bills without the use of an Oxford comma for the last item in a series.

The case may be worth up to $10 million, including interest, penalties, and attorneys’ fees, split between 75 plaintiffs. The case covers drivers employed over a four-year period with Dairy Farmers of America.

 Truck Driver Unpaid Overtime Lawsuit

 Call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you feel that your wage rights are being violated under the FLSA. Our top-rated team of unpaid wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action to help you seek justice.

Our office will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. Because strict time limitations apply for filing these types of claims, we advise you contact our experienced unpaid overtime wage attorneys at your earliest convenience and preserve your legal rights.

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