Los Angeles L&E Team Obtains Wage and Hour Class Action Victory for Performance Food Group
February 13, 2012
THE RESULTS OF ALL CLIENT MATTERS DEPEND ON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH MATTER. PAST SUCCESSES DO NOT PREDICT OR GUARANTEE FUTURE SUCCESSES.
Los Angeles labor and employment attorneys Matthew Kane, Michael Mandel, Sabrina Beldner and Sylvia Kim have won the dismissal of a California meal-break violations class
action brought against the Vistar and Roma Food divisions of client Performance
Food Group (PFG). On Feb. 8, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Central
District of California granted PFG’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ second
amended complaint on the grounds that California’s meal-break laws and all of
the plaintiff’s claims based on alleged violations of those laws are preempted
by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA), which
expressly preempts state laws that have a significant impact on the routes,
services or prices of federally-regulated motor carriers.
The plaintiffs, who are former PFG truck drivers in California, alleged that
PFG built its delivery routes to ensure timely delivery and customer service,
but did so by imposing delivery windows and other delivery policies that caused
“time pressure” which prevented them and other drivers from being able to take
meal breaks as ostensibly required under California law. In its motion to
dismiss, PFG successfully argued that no factual analysis was necessary to
decide the preemption issue because California’s meal break laws facially impose
substantive standards regarding the timing, frequency and duration of such
breaks on PFG’s operations as a motor carrier, and that those meal break
requirements have a significant and prohibited impact on its operations
triggering preemption under the FAAAA.
This ruling is one of only two decisions to hold that California’s meal-break
laws, as applied to a motor carrier’s truck drivers, are preempted by the FAAAA.
In so holding, the court expressly rejected the application of several earlier
state and federal trial court decisions which held that the effect of
California’s break laws on a carrier’s routes, service and prices is too remote
or tenuous for FAAAA preemption to apply. Instead, the district judge relied on
and applied a recent September 2011 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision
holding that the “proper inquiry” for determining if a state law has a
“significant” effect for purposes of FAAAA preemption is to consider if it
“directly or indirectly, ‘binds the ... carrier to a particular price, route or
service and thereby interferes with competitive market forces within the
industry.” In applying that “proper inquiry,” the district judge adopted PFG’s
arguments and authorities to conclude that California’s break laws require
breaks for employees at certain times and of certain lengths, which
substantively impact and bind PFG to routes and service it would not otherwise
use and/or provide, and are therefore preempted by the FAAAA. Accordingly, the
court dismissed the plaintiffs’ action in its entirety with prejudice. In
achieving this result, the Los Angeles team had invaluable support from
paralegal Rachel Evey.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: THE RESULTS OF ALL CLIENT
MATTERS DEPEND ON A VARIETY OF FACTORS
UNIQUE TO EACH MATTER. PAST SUCCESSES DO NOT
PREDICT OR GUARANTEE FUTURE SUCCESSES.