Schneider National Carriers Inc. has agreed to pay $28 million to a certified class of thousands of California truckers who alleged their employer violated state wage-and-hour laws and failed to provide meal and rest breaks. The Plaintiffs, a certified group of more than 6,000 Schneider truck drivers, have asked a California federal court to preliminarily sign off on the settlement. If approved, the consolidated claims of three groups of drivers in the long-running litigation that began in 2008 would come to an end. Of the $28 million settlement, 73 percent, or about $20.5 million, will go toward settling the claims of the so-called dedicated and intermodal driver subclasses, while the remaining $7.56 million will be allocated to the settlement of the claims of the regional driver subclass.
The class is made up of California-based truckers who worked for Schneider as intermodal, dedicated or regional drivers from November 2004 to the present. In September 2012, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White granted class certification to the truckers for most of their claims, clearing the way for them to pursue as a class allegations that the company failed to pay minimum wages for all hours worked, neglected to provide meal and rest breaks, and fell short of paying for all miles driven and accrued vacation at the required state rate. However, the judge denied the Plaintiffs from bringing class allegations that the company failed to furnish accurate itemized wage statements, finding that individualized issues predominated and that the Plaintiffs were unable to show that the drivers’ itemized wage statements did not accurately report calculations based on carrier guidelines.
The case was stayed in January 2013 pending resolution of two appeals in the Ninth Circuit regarding the issue of whether meal and rest break claims under California law are preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) – a Defense argument raised by Schneider in the current case. The stay was eventually lifted about 18 months later. That came after the appellate court issued its rulings in Dilts v. Penske Logistics LLC and Campbell et al. v. Vitran Express Inc.
In Dilts, the Ninth Circuit found that the claims of drivers in that case were not preempted by the FAAAA. The appellate court then revived the related case against delivery truck company Vitran Express in light of the court’s Dilts ruling. The settlement between Schneider and its drivers was reached after several mediation sessions earlier this year. Those sessions occurred while the Dilts ruling was being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately refused to hear the case. A trial in the case had been scheduled to start in April 2016. In a separate motion, the Plaintiffs asked the court set a settlement approval hearing for the 25th of this month.