ATA Files Brief in Support of Penske Meal Break Case

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American Trucking Associations and Airlines for America on Feb. 9 filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a request by Penske Logistics that the high court overturn an appeals court decision upholding California’s meal-break law.

ATA and the principal trade organization for U.S. airlines said the meal-break law violates the federal pre-emption law that ensures that deregulated trucking and airline industries are not “underminded by a patchwork of state-level impediments to the safe and efficient flow of commerce.”

In January, Penske asked the high court to review a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the law that requires employers to provide a “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for employees who work more than five hours a day, plus a second “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for employees who work more than 10 hours a day.

The Supreme Court has not yet said whether it will hear the case.

The joint amicus brief argued that real-world  trucking  operations  are  complex,  involving  carefully  engineered logistical  networks  to  maximize  efficiency and subject  to  serious  disruption  by  state-level break  requirements.

“In  many  cases,  carriers’ operations  are  timed  carefully  to  take  advantage  of the  full  flexibility  offered  by  the  federal  hours-of-service rules,” the amicus brief said. “Application of California’s break requirements would make that impossible.”