TRALA Submits Amicus Brief to the United States Supreme Court

On March 7, 2018 the Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRALA) submitted a Brief of Amicus Curiae to the Supreme Court of the United States, encouraging the court to consider Ortega v. J.B. Hunt Transportation. The Ortega v. J.B. Hunt case focuses on the state of California's effort to expand wage, meal, and rest break laws to trucks operating in interstate commerce, which is in violation of the federal preemption language included in the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA). TRALA had previously filed a Brief of Amicus Curiae with the Supreme Court in the case of Dilts v. Penske Logistics, which unfortunately the Supreme Court decided against considering.
TRALA focused its argument for consideration by the Supreme Court on a few key issues, most pointedly that TRALA believes that the FAAAA language is broad enough and advances Congress' intent on a uniform set of national regulations. Additionally, TRALA argues that this case is of national importance in setting rules for the movement of freight, and finally unlike Dilts, this case is completely focused on interstate commerce. In its FAAAA language, Congress expressly prohibited states from enacting a law, regulation, or other provision, which effect rates, routes and services of a motor carrier.
Within the brief, TRALA states that the Ninth Circuit Court continues to narrow the scope of the FAAAA with their decision on Ortega by expanding the California meal and rest break provisions to a truck operating in interstate commerce.  Additionally, because the meal and rest break laws in California require a truck to take their meal and rest breaks during specific times, and at safe locations off of the highway, an operator must change their route in order to accommodate these provisions. TRALA feels that this is a direct violation of the FAAAA. Finally, because the state of California has decided to expand its minimum wage requirements on interstate trucking, it has made TRALA members from across the country liable for potential wage violations in California. By changing from incentive based pay to a more rigid hourly pay, the Ninth Circuit could dramatically change the pay scale for trucking companies across the country.
The Supreme Court receives thousands of petitions each year and they choose only a handful of cases to consider each session. With that said, the Court often takes at least one case that involves the issue of pre-emption of state vs. federal law. It is clear to TRALA and most everyone in the trucking industry that this California law and the Ninth Circuit's decisions with regard to this law have had a chilling effect on interstate commerce. Because of this, TRALA is hopeful that the merits of this case will warrant consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court.
While awaiting word from the U.S. Supreme Court, TRALA also continues to work with a strong coalition of partners to attempt to fix the California Meal and Rest Break issue through Congress.
If you would like to view TRALA's amicus brief you may do so by clicking here. If you have any questions on the amicus brief or the California meal and rest break issue please contact Andrew Stasiowski at or by calling at (703)299-9120.