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Biden win prompts delay request in California rest-break lawsuit

Now that Joe Biden has been named the U.S. president-elect, there is a “very likely” chance his administration will reverse a Trump administration ruling governing California’s meal and rest-break (MLB) laws, according to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Given that likelihood, the Teamsters argue, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit should delay oral arguments that are scheduled for next Monday because the case could be moot shortly after Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.

“In order to avoid unnecessary review of the administrative determination, this Court should either delay oral argument and hold this matter in abeyance or if it does not, it should hold this matter in abeyance after oral argument and allow the new administration a reasonable amount of time to either make another determination or weigh in as to its position in this case,” the Teamsters asserted in a motion filed Tuesday.

“This procedure would allow a complete review based upon the position of the current administration as to the preemptive effect of the MRB laws.”

Under the Trump administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in December 2018 granted a petition by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), and in so doing ruled that California could not dictate the work rules for truck drivers by preempting federal regulations that govern federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations.

California’s regulations require truck drivers to stop for a 30-minute break after five hours.

ATA, along with the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association, argued that the rule violated federal HOS regulations that require a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving. They contended that California’s MRB laws potentially could require truck drivers to take two 30-minute breaks in an 11-hour driving day when in California.

In addition to creating a level of confusion as to which rules to follow, California’s laws have led to a number of class-action lawsuits by truckers who said they have not been allowed to take their 30-minute break after five hours.

The Washington Trucking Associations (WTA) petitioned the FMCSA to make a similar preemption rulingon the state of Washington’s MRB rules. WTA’s petition, which the FMCSA published in October 2019 for a 30-day public comment period, is still pending.

The Teamsters — which appealed FMCSA’s decision in February 2019 — acknowledged that federal appeals courts disfavor postponing oral argument, and when they do the request must be made within 14 days of the date of the hearing.

In this case however, the Teamsters pointed out in their motion that the 2020 election results were not known until Saturday, when the major news services called the election. “This motion is being filed at the earliest opportunity after those dramatic changes in the circumstances.”

This article originally appeared on Freight Waves

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