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Gomez v. JP Trucking, Inc.

2020 COA 153. No. 17CA2384.  Labor and Employment Law—Wages—Overtime—Fair Labor Standards Act—Colorado Minimum Wage Order—Motor Carrier Act—Interstate Drivers.

November 9, 2020

Plaintiffs were formerly employed as truck drivers for JP Trucking, Inc. (JP Trucking). They filed a complaint alleging that JP Trucking failed to pay them time and a half as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Colorado Minimum Wage Order No. 31 (Wage Order). Following a bench trial, the trial court found for plaintiffs and awarded them damages. JP Trucking appealed, and another Court of Appeals division concluded it could not resolve the appeal without further factual findings.

On remand, the trial court found that plaintiffs were exempt from overtime under FLSA’s Motor Carrier Act (MCA) exemption. However, the trial court also found that because plaintiffs either did not drive out of state or their out-of-state driving was de minimis, they were not “interstate drivers” under the Wage Order. The court awarded plaintiffs damages under the Wage Order along with reasonable fees and costs.

On appeal, JP Trucking contended that the trial court interpreted “interstate drivers” in the Wage Order too narrowly. FLSA sets federal minimum wage and overtime requirements for certain employees nationwide, while the Wage Order sets the minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for Colorado employees who work in certain industries. The Wage Order provisions are largely patterned after FLSA, and the Wage Order exemption includes employees who are subject to the MCA exemption, which  exempts from the foregoing requirements drivers who transport goods in interstate commerce. Here, the trial court’s findings on limited remand established that plaintiffs are subject to the MCA exemption, and JP Trucking satisfied its burden of proving that it transported goods in interstate commerce. Accordingly, plaintiffs are exempted from overtime pay.

The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded with directions to enter judgment in favor of JP Trucking and to vacate the damages award.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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