The Seventh Circuit joined the Second, Third, and Ninth Circuits in finding that interstate school bus drivers are covered by the Motor Carrier Act (MCA) exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and accordingly cannot make claims for overtime pay under the FLSA.

In Almy v. Kickert School Bus Line, Inc., the plaintiff drove a school bus route that required picking up children at private schools in Illinois and dropping them off at their homes in Indiana. The plaintiff, who represented himself, filed suit against Kickert School Bus Line, Inc., his employer, claiming that he was deprived of overtime pay under the FLSA.

Before the Seventh Circuit, the plaintiff argued that the district court had erred in granting summary judgment to his former employer in his action for overtime wages under the FLSA by relying on the MCA exemption. Under the Motor Carrier Act, the Secretary of Transportation has exclusive authority to set maximum hours for individuals who are paid to transport passengers across state lines. Accordingly, those covered by the MCA are exempt under the FLSA and ineligible for overtime pay.

The plaintiff argued that the exemption did not apply to school bus drivers who transport passengers across state lines based on language in the Motor Carrier Act which provides that the Secretary of Transportation lacks “jurisdiction under this part over . . . a motor vehicle transporting only school children and teachers to or from school.”

The district court and the Seventh Circuit agreed that this “part” applies only to the economic regulations of the MCA and not to the safety regulations, which appear in a different subtitle of the Act. Based on this interpretation of the Motor Carrier Act, the Seventh Circuit concluded that the MCA exemption language relied upon by the plaintiff did not divest the Secretary of Transportation of the power to set maximum driving hours for interstate school bus drivers, and, accordingly, that the FLSA overtime provisions did not apply.