Arguing that he regularly drove a vehicle weighing less than 10,001 pounds, a truck driver is asking a federal court in Michigan to reconsider its decision in a lawsuit regarding overtime pay.
On Feb. 8, the U.S. District Court’s Eastern District of Michigan denied Justin Guy’s motion for summary judgment, in part, because the former truck driver for Absopure Water Co. failed to fully explain how often he drove the lighter vehicles.
Guy’s attorneys on Wednesday, Feb. 22, filed a motion for reconsideration, contending that “simple arithmetic” confirms that he drove a truck weighing less than 10,001 pounds about 9% of the time.
The weight of the truck is at issue, because Plymouth, Mich.-based Absopure argues that Guy was exempt from overtime pay as part of the motor carrier exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The motor vehicles used by the employee must weigh at least 10,001 pounds for the exemption to apply. Guy argues that he only needed to drive the smaller vehicle 1% of the time to qualify for overtime.
“Respectfully, simple arithmetic confirms that plaintiff’s assertion that he drove a vehicle that weighs less than 10,001 pounds approximately two times per month equates to 9% of his routes,” Guy’s attorneys wrote in the motion for reconsideration.
Guy drove intrastate for Absopure from September 2018 until February 2020, delivering coffee and water products that originated outside of Michigan. Guy was paid a daily rate of $120 plus commission for products sold but did not receive overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week.
In 2020, Guy filed a lawsuit claiming that Absopure violated the FLSA by not paying him overtime. Absopure said that Guy was exempt from overtime pay, arguing that he was engaged in interstate commerce even though he only drove within the state of Michigan. In addition, the company said it has evidence Guy “regularly and routinely” drove trucks weighing more than 10,001 pounds.
Absopure requested the court grant summary judgment in full and dismiss Guy’s case with prejudice.
Guy also asked for summary judgment and sought a decision that:
- He was not exempt under the motor carrier exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
- He is entitled to liquidated damages (double the unpaid wages due to the employee).
- His claims are subject to a three-year statute of limitations “because Absopure willfully violated the FLSA.”
On Feb. 8, the court denied Absopure’s motion, because it had not “conclusively demonstrated that the exemption applied” or that Guy was unable to establish damages.
The court also denied Guy’s request for summary judgment in regard to the first and third claims, “because questions of fact remain as to the applicability of the (motor carrier exemption) and whether any violation of the FLSA was willful.” However, the court ruled that Guy will be entitled to liquidated damages if he can establish an FLSA violation because Absopure did not take “affirmative steps to investigate and comply with its obligations.”
In the court’s Feb. 8 opinion, it said Guy did not make the contention that he drove small vehicles for 9% of the time in his declaration or at a deposition.
“It is simply argumentation in his lawyer’s brief-argumentation that is not fully explained or substantiated,” the court wrote.
“Because neither side has demonstrated an absence of disputed fact on this issue, the court declines to grant summary judgment for either party as to the small vehicle exception on the present record.”
On Feb. 22, Guy asked the court to reconsider and vacate its opinion to deny summary judgment in regards to the small vehicle exception.
Guy’s attorneys contend that the declaration included that he drove vehicles weighing less than 10,001 pounds about twice a month. According to Guy’s estimate, he drove a smaller vehicle 32 out of the 338 days he worked for the company. That means he would have operated vehicles weighing less than 10,001 pounds 9.46% of the time.
In addition, Guy’s attorneys say the percentage could be even higher based on Absopure’s records that show the fleet had eight vehicles weighing less than 10,001 pounds and 21 weighing between 10,001 and 26,000 pounds. The company testified that drivers are equally likely to have driven any of the vehicles they are certified or licensed to drive on any workday.
“Therefore, defendant’s binding corporate representative testimony equates to defendant estimating that plaintiff drove vehicles that weighed less than 10,001 pounds on 27.6% of his routes,” Guy’s attorneys wrote.
“Accordingly, summary judgment should be granted for plaintiff as a matter of law because, while (Guy) is not subject to the (motor carrier) exemption, even if he was he was undisputedly subject to the small vehicle exception of the exemption, either way.” LL