Affirming a ruling from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit last week confirmed that drivers for a motor coach company remained exempt under the motor carrier exemption, notwithstanding the relatively low volume of interstate transit and related revenue generated by the company’s interstate routes. Resch v. Krapf’s Coaches, Inc., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 7810 (3d Cir. May 12, 2015).
In Resch, the employer ran a bus and shuttle service operating 32 set routes, four of which crossed state lines. During the relevant period, the percentage of the division’s revenue generated by those routes varied from 1% to 9.7%. The employer retained the discretion to assign a driver to any route. Plaintiffs asserted that they were not exempt since they could not have been “reasonably …. expected to drive interstate” because of the low volume of interstate routes and interstate revenue. Rejecting this argument, the court found that during the relevant time period 6.9% of all trips were interstate, which was sufficient to create a reasonable expectation of travel in interstate commerce, and the exemption would apply even if a particular driver never engaged in an interstate route because “”even if the driver has not personally driven in interstate commerce [he would remain subject to Motor Carrier Act coverage] if, because of company policy and activity, the driver could reasonably be expected to do interstate driving.” The court noted that the employer adhered to the federal DOT regulations governing motor carriers, and rejected the argument that the volume of interstate travel was “de minimis.”
Application of the motor carrier exemption, involving as it does the interplay between Department of Labor and Department of Transportation regulations, remains highly technical, and requires attention to not only federal but applicable state laws, as well as consultation with counsel.