Who Wants to Be an ‘Over the Road’ Driver?
The federal law that was passed to create rights for truck drivers is called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). That law contains an overtime exemption for drivers who are also regulated by the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT). The Federal DOT was given the authority to create an overtime standard for Over the Road (OTR) drivers, but they have not done so. This has been the case since 1938. The federal courts have final authority for enforcing the FLSA, and these courts have not been good to drivers because they tend to enforce the law very liberally against them.
The trucking industry wants you to think you are paid well. Yet it is often the case that when you agree to work for a percentage of the load, or for a per mile rate, the company finds ways to cut back what you think you are entitled to. As a matter of fact, most drivers compute mileage based on the number of miles driven. The company uses GPS for this, but they do not tell you that until you go to get paid. The company frequently charges OTR drivers for damages that they say the driver did. Broken windscreen anyone? Busted refer door? Damaged fuel tank? Those are all damages the employer is supposed to take care of, as their cost of doing business.
Yet OTR drivers are told that so long as there is no minimum wage (MW) violation, there is nothing they can do. OTR drivers are also told to sue the employer in small claims court yet, that is extremely difficult to do. There are more than 1.3 million OTR drivers in America. Unfortunately, unless there is a MW violation based on the hours you worked, there is nothing you can do under the FLSA.
The OTR driver also must deal with problems caused by cash advances for meals and occasionally lodging. Companies frequently misclassify you as an independent contractor, when that’s not the case. In doing so, they greatly complicate your tax life, your work life, and cause long term problems involving the IRS and Social Security. No one is looking out for you or your families. Even as I originally wrote this article in May 2016, the Senate was trying to authorize that you work 80 hours a week, because they said you can still drive safely in spite of the rise in the number of fatal wrecks caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel.
Now you know. If information is power what will you do with your power?