NEWARK, NJ: On September 30, 2014, the United States District Court District of New Jersey ordered judgment against the New Jersey based trucking company, Jasmin International Corporation and its owner for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law, and the New Jersey Wage Payment Law. The plaintiff truck drivers were represented by Swartz Swidler, LLC, an employment law firm based in Cherry Hill, NJ which is litigating nearly a dozen wage and hour matters against trucking companies nationwide.
The judgment, originally ordered by Magistrate Judge Waldor and upheld by District Judge Stanley R. Chesler, orders Defendants to pay unpaid wages and overtime, along with attorney’s fees and costs, to the truck drivers who filed suit against Jasmin which asserted that the company failed to pay minimum wages and overtime to its drivers as required by the FLSA and New Jersey state law.
The plaintiff truck drivers asserted that they were sent on continuous tours of duty extending 12-days. The truck drivers asserted that during such tours of duty, they were unable to go home and were required remain on or near the truck the entire time. The truck drivers asserted that they were required to spend a significant amount of time (more than 8 hours per day) in the truck’s sleeper berth while on a tour of duty. They further asserted that they were not paid minimum wage (as required by the FLSA) for all hours worked (including hours beyond 8 per day spent in the sleeper berth and other working time). Finally, the truck drivers sought overtime at time and one half the minimum wage for hours worked beyond 40 hours per workweek, as required by New Jersey law.
Whether sleeper berth time is compensable has remained a contested issue in wage and hour litigation against trucking companies, despite a regulatory framework issued by the Department of Labor which holds that such time is compensable as a matter of law. In the decision reached in Punter, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey followed the regulatory framework and held that time spent by an over-the-road truck driver in a sleeper berth beyond the permitted 8-hours per day is time worked.
Truck drivers are required to complete such “off duty” tasks to remain alert while driving. The Complaint alleges that Defendants sent Plaintiffs on 12-day tours, requiring Plaintiffs to spend hours sleeping . . . without compensation. The Department of Transportation (“DOT”) classifies such activities as “off duty” for purposes of its safety regulations. Yet for purposes of compensation, FLSA regulations appear to contemplate that some hours spent sleeping may be compensable.
Punter, et al. v. Jasmin Int’l Corp., et al. 12-7828 (D. NJ. Sept. 30, 2014).
Swartz Swidler, LLC represents the truck drivers in their fight for wages. Swartz Swidler, LLC is an employment law firm based in New Jersey which focuses on nationwide wage and hour disputes, with a particular emphasis in the trucking industry. If you have worked for a trucking company during the last three years and you are being paid under the minimum wage and/or not received the right amount for your overtime work, please call us today for a free consultation.