News & Insights

Eleventh Circuit Affirms Application Of Motor Carrier Exemption To Intrastate Drivers

The Motor Carrier Exemption of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) provides a defense to many overtime claims by interstate truck drivers and others involved in the interstate shipment of goods.  The exemption is not, however, limited to drivers who cross state lines.  Rather, the exemption also applies to intrastate drivers as long as the drivers complete one leg of a larger interstate transport of goods. 

In Ehrlich et al. v. Rick Products Corp, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that the plaintiffs were exempt from FLSA overtime requirements pursuant to the Motor Carrier Exemption even though the drivers did not cross state lines.  Plaintiffs delivered frozen desserts from a storage facility in Florida to retail locations throughout Florida.  The desserts were manufactured in Connecticut and other states and arrived in Florida after a long journey.  A third-party trucking company transported the desserts from the manufacturing facilities to a Florida warehouse where another third-party company loaded them onto shuttle trucks to take them from the warehouse to the delivery trucks driven by Plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs argued that the desserts’ interstate journey ended at the warehouse because at the time of shipment, the defendant distributor had not received specific orders from customers who would ultimately receive the desserts.  The Eleventh Circuit rejected this argument.  The Court concluded that the journey remained interstate even after the desserts were stored at the warehouse because the distributor had based its inventory decisions on projections of the demand for the desserts, and shipped only the volume of desserts that it reasonably expected to meet immediate customer demands. The Court indicated that storage at a warehouse for up to six months would not necessarily defeat the fixed and persistent intent to move goods in interstate commerce where the shipper makes its shipment decisions based on reasonable projections.  This case should prevent future arguments by plaintiffs that a shipper must intend to deliver the product to a specific customer at the time of shipment in order to claim the Motor Carrier Exemption with respect to drivers who complete one intrastate leg of the journey.