Washington State Court Backs Drivers’ Overtime

Ruling Applies to Interstate Drivers
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In a 5-4 opinion, the Washington State Supreme Court has interpreted a state overtime provision to apply to interstate truck drivers who work in excess of 40 hours in a week, regardless of whether a portion of those working hours take place outside of the state.American Trucking Associations and the Washington Trucking Associations supported the trucking company employer, an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on the case’s federal issues may be pending, ATA said.The court rejected state administrative rules that had been in place nearly 20 years and which expressly held that interstate truck drivers are eligible for overtime only if they work more than 40 hours in a week within the state.It also rejected claims that interpreting overtime eligibility to be based on hours wherever worked would violate the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause as unduly burdening interstate commerce.The dissenting opinion honored the administrative interpretation of the statute and the state legislature’s acquiescence in that interpretation, and also noted that interpreting the overtime provision to be based on out-of-state work would not further the underlying purpose of the law.