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9th Circuit Rules That the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act Does Not Preempt California Meal and Rest Period Laws

In a set back for motor-carrier industry employers in California, the 9th Circuit ruled on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (the FAAAA) does not preempt California meal and rest break law. In Dilts v. Penske Logistics a three member panel of the  9th Circuit overruled a lower court that had found that the FAAAA, which provides “States may not enact or enforce a law . . . related to a price, route or service of any motor carrier . . . with respect to the transportation of property,” preempted California laws relating to meal and rest periods. In the 9th Circuit’s decision, written by Judge Susan Graber, the Court found that California’s meal and rest period policies are not “‘related to’” Defendants’ prices, routes, or services,” and, accordingly, the FAAAA did not preempt those laws. One Judge would have remanded the case to the trial court to allow the employer to demonstrate how state law related to the motor carrier’s price, route or service.

Stay tuned as the employer may seek to have the case reheard by an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit and may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

© 2020 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume IV, Number 195


About this Author

Scott Witlin Employment lawyer Barnes Thornburg

Scott J. Witlin is a partner and the administrator of the Labor & Employment Department in the firm's Los Angeles office. He is Co-Chair of the firm's Wage and Hour Practice Group and a member of the firm's Entertainment, Media and Sports Practice Group.

Scott assists companies in dealing with the challenges of employing workers in California and throughout the U.S. Scott's practice includes both traditional labor and employment law matters, including wage and hour class actions, arbitrations, collective bargaining negotiations, compliance with various guild and union agreements...

Steve Hernandez, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Los Angeles, Labor and Employment Law Attorney

Steve L. Hernández is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Barnes & Thornburg. A member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Law Department, Mr. Hernández focuses his practice on traditional labor and employment law. Mr. Hernández has extensive experience litigating class action matters.

Mr. Hernández also brings four years of experience as an attorney with Region 21 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to his practice. While at the NLRB, Mr. Hernández investigated unfair labor practice, litigated unfair labor practice complaints, conducted union representation elections, and presided over NLRB proceedings as a hearing officer.

In the 2018 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, Mr. Hernández was recognized for his work in labor and employment litigation.

Mr. Hernández earned his J.D. from the University of Southern California Law School in 2003. While in law school, Mr. Hernández was a member of the La Raza Law Students Association. In 1999, Mr. Hernández graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in legal studies.

Mr. Hernández is fluent in Spanish and is admitted to practice in state courts of California as well as before the United States District Courts for the Southern, Central, Eastern and Northern Districts of California.