Fifth Circuit Holds Staff Leasing Company May Assert Motor Carrier Exemption

In Songer v. Dillon Resources, Inc., No. 09-10803 (Sept. 3, 2010), a unanimous panel of the Fifth Circuit issued two holdings, both favorable to employers attempting to establish the Motor Carrier Act exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The first issue was whether an employee staff-leasing company may assert the Motor Carrier Act exemption embodied in the FLSA. In Songer, one of the defendants was an employee staff-leasing company that hired drivers and assigned them to various interstate trucking companies. In that case, the plaintiffs were assigned to two different trucking companies that hauled aggregate used in the cement and concrete industries. Sometimes the aggregate was hauled across state lines, but in some instances the aggregate was only hauled within the state of Texas. The Fifth Circuit held that a staff-leasing company was entitled to the Motor Carrier Act exemption because it provided drivers to interstate trucking companies. The Fifth Circuit also held that all of the truck drivers were subject to the Motor Carrier Act exemption, even if some of them drove primarily intrastate. The court held that each truck driver did not have to personally participate in interstate commerce but, rather, only had to have a reasonable expectation that he/she could be called upon to drive across state lines. In Songer, all of the truck drivers could reasonably be expected to engage in interstate commerce because the dispatcher randomly assigned trips, some of which crossed state lines; no truck driver had a dedicated route; and all of the drivers had to meet DOL requirements, such as completing DOT logs and drug tests.

This entry was written by Shawn Oller.

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