The highly technical application of the motor carrier exemption to the FLSA’s overtime payment requirement often requires an analysis of the goods being transported by the purported motor carrier. If the goods in question are still traveling in the “continuous stream of interstate travel,” triggering Department of Transportation jurisdiction over the motor carrier, the exemption may apply. If the delivery is merely local and intrastate, the exemption likely does not apply. Walling v. Jacksonville Paper Co., 317 U.S. 564, 568 (1943). A recent Florida federal court decision focused on this question and held the goods in question—specialty “Hispanic” baked goods imported to Florida in large part from Canada, Chile and Spain—were traveling in interstate commerce, notwithstanding that not all of the orders in question were placed for specific customers with some made for inventory purposes. Rodriguez v. Pan & Plus Baking, LLC, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55015 (S.D. Fla. Apr. 17, 2013).
Defendant’s orders of baked goods from these countries consisted of both “certain specific customers’ pre-existing orders [and also goods purchased] in anticipation of projected customer demand for these foreign products.” Judge Federico A. Moreno observed that the “fact that shipments did not all correspond to specific customer orders does not, by itself, support a finding that there was no fixed and persisting intent to ship goods in interstate commerce.” Rather, the Court looked to the “intention formed prior to shipment, pursuant to which property is carried to a selected destination by a continuous or unified movement.” Under this analysis, all of the goods in question reflected Defendant’s intent – the “purchase of specialty baked goods from foreign manufacturers and the subsequent, continuous transportation of those goods from their points of origin to defendants’ customers in Florida.” The Court explained these orders retained the “practical continuity of movement,” even when sometimes warehoused by Defendant for a period of up to two weeks. Because all of the Plaintiffs worked as drivers or, in one instance, a loader, of vehicles in excess of 10,000 pounds, the motor carrier exemption applied to Defendant’s employees’ movement of the goods.
The application of the motor carrier exemption can be highly technical. Consult with your counsel if you have questions.