The Ogletree Deakins Trucking and Logistics Industry Group is comprised of a team of experienced attorneys who advise, counsel, and represent carriers, warehouse operators, and companies with trucking divisions and warehousing operations in all aspects of labor and employment matters affecting drivers and other workers in the trucking and logistics industry. Our firm and several of our attorneys are members of and actively engaged in trucking and logistics industry trade associations, including the North American Transportation Employee Relations Association (NATERA), the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the California Trucking Association (CTA), and other state and national trucking and warehouse logistics associations. Through our involvement with these associations and our long-standing representation of small and national carriers and logistics companies, our attorneys understand the unique labor and employment issues facing the trucking and logistics industry. They focus on providing practical, real-world solutions and effective representation in administrative agency proceedings, single-plaintiff cases, and class and collective actions regarding all labor and employment matters affecting the trucking and logistics industry.
AREAS OF EXPERIENCE
Our trucking and logistic industry experience spans the following areas:
Ogletree Deakins’ attorneys assist carriers, trucking divisions, and warehouse operators throughout the country to create, roll out, and enforce arbitration agreements and other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) programs. Our attorneys are experienced with the complex limitations to the enforceability of arbitration agreements for transportation workers under Section 1 of the Federal Arbitration Act and can work with your company to develop compliant and enforceable arbitration agreements and ADR programs where possible. We have skilled attorneys located in our offices in all major jurisdictions of the country and are able to advise companies, whether they have a single location or multiple locations, or are multistate operations, on the potential costs and benefits of arbitration and on effective ways to structure solutions according to their goals, workforces, and locations.
Developing effective and compliant compensation systems is one of the greatest challenges facing carriers and trucking divisions in today’s marketplace. Because of our national and international reach, Ogletree Deakins has experienced and knowledgeable attorneys throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico available to assist in developing incentive-based (e.g., per mile, per load, etc.) and hourly compensation systems that comply with applicable local, state, and federal laws, and ensure a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining productive drivers and other workers. Our litigation and class action attorneys are also skilled in defending legal challenges to existing compensation systems.
DISTRIBUTION AND WAREHOUSING
Ogletree Deakins’ attorneys have the experience and knowledge to provide practical counsel on the complex labor and employment legal issues facing companies with warehouse and distribution facilities. These include wage and hour compliance, the unique challenges presented with staffing agencies, joint employer liability, immigration, and worker safety, among others. Our attorneys regularly defend companies with warehousing and distribution facilities in worker related agency investigations and audits, single plaintiff litigation, and class and collective actions.
The independent contractor/owner-operator model has existed for decades in the trucking and logistics industry as an effective, legal, and efficient system of moving the nation’s freight. The business model continues to face legal challenges, however, from several state agencies and private plaintiffs contending that owner-operators are misclassified employees. Ogletree Deakins’ attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced in this specialized area of the law and can assist carriers and truck divisions in developing and implementing measures to protect companies against challenges asserting that their owner-operator business partners are employees. We are defending such cases in jurisdictions across the country. We also advise clients on these issues in the acquisition context.
DRUG AND ALCOHOL TESTING
Ogletree Deakins’ attorneys are knowledgeable about and experienced with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) drug and alcohol testing compliance and reporting requirements. They are able to assist carriers, warehouse operators, and trucking divisions in drafting and revising drug and alcohol testing policies, counseling on and analyzing individual drug and alcohol testing situations (including reasonable-suspicion drug testing determinations), advising on privacy considerations, and conducting investigations and training. Our attorneys are also experienced in litigating class and collective actions, single-plaintiff cases, and administrative agency matters arising out of drug and alcohol testing and use matters.
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION AUTHORIZATION ACT
The Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) is a powerful federal law passed by Congress to protect the trucking industry against a growing patchwork of local and state labor and employment laws and their impact on carriers’ routes, prices, and services. Ogletree Deakins’ attorneys understand and use the FAAAA effectively in litigation in various jurisdictions throughout the country to defeat, or preempt, driver claims arising out of these state and local laws.
FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER ACT OVERTIME EXEMPTION AND STATE OVERTIME EXEMPTIONS FOR DRIVER AND DRIVER-RELATED DUTIES
Ogletree Deakins’ attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced in the application of the federal Motor Carrier Act overtime exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the corresponding state overtime exemptions for driver and driver-related duties. Our attorneys are skilled in counseling carriers and trucking divisions regarding the conditions required to meet the overtime exemption for drivers, helpers, and other employees engaged in safety-affecting duties. Due to our national presence, we also have the resources and a comprehensive understanding of the various state overtime exemptions to aid carriers with both single-state and multistate operations.
FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION (FMCSA) HOURS-OF-SERVICE REQUIREMENTS
Ogletree Deakins’ attorneys regularly assist carriers and trucking divisions in understanding and ensuring compliance with applicable state and federal hours-of-service (HOS) requirements. Our attorneys are experienced in counseling companies on several HOS-related concerns, including electronic logging device requirements, sleeper berth issues, sleep apnea, and enforcement issues. Our attorneys stay abreast of recent orders by the FMCSA and other Department of Transportation agencies, which have found that various state and local employment laws are preempted by federal safety regulations. Our attorneys regularly rely upon such favorable orders to defend carriers and trucking divisions against driver claims based upon state and local laws.
FMCSA LEASING REGULATIONS
Ogletree Deakins’ attorneys are experienced in the FMCSA truth-in-leasing (TIL) regulations and how they affect carriers, trucking divisions, and owner-operators. Our attorneys are able to review, draft, and revise independent contractor operating and leasing agreements to ensure compliance with TIL regulations. Our litigation attorneys are also knowledgeable about the application of TIL regulations as a possible defense to various state wage and hour and reimbursement claims.
Ogletree Deakins has one of the largest business immigration practices in the United States and provides a wide range of legal services to help carriers, trucking divisions, and warehouse operators overcome the industry-wide driver labor shortage. Our immigration practice group consists of experienced and dedicated immigration lawyers who work with domestic and international corporations and businesses in developing appropriate strategies to facilitate the international transfer of skilled drivers and other workers. Our full-service immigration practice assists our clients in obtaining temporary employment visas, obtaining permanent residence status for foreign nationals, assisting clients in planning for the immigration impact of mergers and acquisitions, and providing guidance with regard to I-9 compliance and related antidiscrimination provisions.
INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR AGREEMENTS
A well-drafted and enforceable independent contractor or operating agreement is an essential element in establishing and maintaining an effective contractual relationship with a carrier’s owner-operator business partners. Ogletree Deakins’ attorneys are experienced in reviewing, drafting, and revising independent contractor agreements to ensure the agreements comply with the latest local, state, and federal requirements, including, where applicable, the FMCSA TIL regulations. Our attorneys are also skilled in drafting enforceable choice-of-law and arbitration provisions to ensure disputes are adjudicated in the manner anticipated by the parties when they entered the agreements.
MEAL AND REST PERIODS
Ensuring compliance with various state meal and rest period requirements and defending against the litigation arising out of these requirements continue to be significant challenges for carriers, trucking divisions, and warehouse operators. Ogletree Deakins’ attorneys nationwide have significant knowledge and experience in assisting carriers, trucking divisions, and warehouse operators on how to comply with meal and rest period requirements where such requirements are not otherwise preempted by state or federal law. This includes developing practical meal and rest period policies, documentation protocols, and other steps to ensure compliance and reduce the risk of exposure to litigation. Our litigation attorneys keep abreast of and advance developments with respect to FAAAA case law and FMCSA regulatory interpretations, and use law to implement effective defenses to meal and rest period single-plaintiff cases and class and collective actions.
UNION ORGANIZING AND BARGAINING
Ogletree Deakins has many labor attorneys with vast experience in complex and sophisticated traditional labor law matters impacting the trucking and logistics industry. This includes experience advising and representing carriers and trucking divisions of all sizes with union representation campaigns, collective bargaining negotiations, strike preparations, labor arbitrations, and National Labor Relations Board proceedings.
WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH
Ogletree Deakins’ workplace safety and health attorneys are available to counsel and represent carriers, trucking divisions, and warehouse operators in all occupational safety and health (OSH)-related services necessary to ensure a safe and compliant workplace. Our attorneys are highly experienced and adept at handling Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspections and negotiating favorable informal settlements of OSHA citations. They also counsel clients to help ensure compliance with OSHA standards, provide advice based on our experience and best practices to formulate or enhance safety and health programs, and conduct safety and health audits.
Notable recent achievements by the attorneys in our Trucking and Logistics Industry Group include the following:
- Defeating a motion for class certification based on allegations that food distributors were misclassified as independent contractors
- Defeating a motion for class certification based on allegations that delivery drivers were not paid overtime or provided meal periods and rest breaks
- Obtaining summary judgment in a class action lawsuit where plaintiffs’ reimbursement claims were preempted by federal TIL regulations
- Defeating a motion for class certification in a lawsuit by warehouse employees against their logistics employer for meal and rest period and overtime claims
- Negotiating an industry-wide settlement with the California Labor Commissioner on behalf of the ready-mix concrete material supply industry concerning meal periods taken by ready-mix concrete truck drivers
- Representing a commercial vehicle dealership against a union’s attempt to unionize all full-time and regular part-time employees working in the parts department, including delivery drivers, and subsequently prevailing in the election against the largest mechanics union in the United States
- Prevailing in a jury trial against a discrimination lawsuit brought by a truck driver who alleged he was misclassified as an independent contractor on both misclassification and discrimination claims
- Receiving a favorable award from the California Labor Commissioner on a finding that a food distributor was properly classified as an independent contractor