July 5, 2020

Volume X, Number 187

July 03, 2020

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California Court Delivers Trucking Company a Meal/Rest Break Win and Limits the Application of the ABC Test

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California recently ruled in an employment class action regarding misclassification of trucking industry owner-operators as independent contractors. The ruling is a win for numerous industries. Henry v. Central Freight Lines, Inc., No. 2:16-cv-00280-JAM-EFB (June 13, 2019).


In May 2014, Rickey Henry and Central Freight Lines, Inc. (CFL), which is a federally registered and permitted motor carrier, entered into an independent contractor agreement for Henry’s services as a truck driver. When the relationship ended, Henry sued alleging CFL misclassified him as an independent contractor and violated California’s meal and rest break laws.

Meal and Rest Break Rule Preemption

The court granted summary judgment to CFL on Henry’s claims alleging violations of California’s meal and rest break rules under California Labor Code sections 226.7 and 512. The court noted that, in 2018, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published an order “concluding that California’s meal and rest break rules are preempted . . . as applied to property-carrying commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers covered by the FMCSA’s hours of service regulations.” The court held it would not enforce the preempted provisions.

Independent Contractor Tests

CFL argued Henry’s employment classification should be determined under the Borello test as opposed to the California Supreme Court’s 2018 ABC test. The court held that the previous Borello “right of control” test for determining if someone is an employee applies to nearly all of Henry’s claims, including his claims brought under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). The court will only apply the more stringent ABC test to claims brought under California’s Wage Orders.

Key Takeaways

The law is rapidly evolving in this area, but the Henry opinion comes from one of the first courts to provide guidance on meal and rest preemption and the application of the ABC test to claims that are not brought under California’s Wage Orders.

© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 205


About this Author

Spencer C. Skeen Labor & Employment Lawyer Ogletree Deakins Law Firm

Mr. Skeen is a shareholder in the San Diego office. He founded the office and served as its initial Managing Shareholder. He devotes his practice exclusively to the representation of companies and institutions of higher education in bet-the-company litigation. Mr. Skeen has represented private companies, nonprofit institutions and publicly traded employers in hundreds of class and representative actions, including claims brought under California’s Private Attorneys General Act. He has also defended clients in high stakes business and real estate litigation, lawsuits alleging...

Tim L. Johnson Class Action Lawyer Ogletree Deakins Law Firm

Tim specializes in employment class and representative actions. Since helping start the San Diego office in 2013, he has handled more than 150 such actions in federal and California courts. In several cases, he secured dismissals of class and representative allegations through targeted motion practice and innovative procedural strategies.

Tim enjoys the study of law and is passionate about his practice. He works hard to secure the best result for his clients. He uses his expertise, knowledge, and passion to do what it takes to successfully defend his clients.

Tim has defended public and private employers in various industries, including trucking and transportation companies, hotels and motels, resorts and casinos, automobile dealerships and service centers, healthcare groups, restaurants and supermarkets, retailers and wholesalers, and staffing companies.

Jesse C. Ferrantella, Ogletree Deakins, San Diego, California, Employment law, labor law, wage-and-hour matters, employment discrimination, retaliation, harassment,  California’s Private Attorneys General Act

Jesse Ferrantella is an associate in the San Diego office of Ogletree Deakins. He represents employers in all aspects of employment law, including wage-and-hour matters, employment discrimination, retaliation, harassment, and claims brought under California’s Private Attorneys General Act.  His practice includes an emphasis on class and collective actions.

Jesse’s practice involves all aspects of litigation in state and federal court, including presenting argument on motions, preparing dispositive motions, and working on appeals and amici ...