PAM Transport to Pay Truckers $16.5 MILLION to Settle Class Action Wage Case
Tontitown, AR – After a more than three-year legal battle, mega carrier P.A.M. Transportation (PAM) has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit for $16.5 million.
The lawsuit, filed in December of 2016 on behalf of former PAM truck drivers David Browne, Antonio Caldwell, and Lucretia Hall, alleged the carrier violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Arkansas Minimum Wage Law (AMWL) by not paying minimum wage for “all hours worked.”
The drivers asserted they were required to remain over-the-road (OTR) or in the general proximity of their assigned truck for periods of more than 24 consecutive hours.
Further, the drivers claimed they were “continually” on duty.
According to Arkansas law, the maximum amount of time an employer may dock an employee who is on duty for more than 24 hours for time spent in a sleeper berth is eight hours per day.
The remaining 16 hours each day (minus meal periods) is considered work time and must be compensated at least minimum wages.
The drivers argued they were required to work more than 16 hours each day to perform duties such as: drive the truck, remain in the truck while the truck was moving so that they could assist in transporting the cargo, wait for cargo to be loaded or unloaded while in the truck or in its immediate vicinity, fuel up and perform routine maintenance of the truck, remain in the truck or in close proximity in order to protect PAM’s investment and customers’ cargo, and remain inside the truck when stopped to log time in the sleeper berth.
The complaint also alleged PAM made various “unlawful deductions” from drivers’ pay including charging a $10 fee for advances up to $75.
During the legal battle, the lawsuit was certified as a class action and eligible members included drivers who were employed between December 9, 2013 to December 31, 2019.
More than 3,000 truck drivers joined in the class action.
On February 6, 2020, class members scored a partial win in the fight as U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks ordered PAM to pay class members nearly $2 million.
The judgment was to compensate class members for all time logged as “driving” and “on duty not driving” that was not compensated at least minimum wage.
The order also included wages not paid for rest breaks of 20 minutes or less.
However, the court denied summary judgment for claims that class members be paid minimum wage for 16 hours of every day while OTR.
Terms of $16.5 MILLION Settlement Agreement
In a settlement agreement filed on February 17, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, PAM Transport denies it is “liable or owes damages to anyone with respect to the alleged facts or causes of actions asserted in the litigation.”
The company says it agreed to settle the case to avoid “burden, expense, and uncertainty of continuing the Litigation.”
PAM must pay $16.5 million within 10 days of the final order granting approval of the settlement.
Class members’ attorneys, Swartz-Swidler, will walk away with $5.5 million, plus “reasonable actual case-related costs and expenses” not to exceed $600,000.
Named plaintiffs, David Browne, Antonio Caldwell, and Lucretia Hall, will each receive $50,000.
Class members who traveled to Arkansas to testify in the trial will receive an additional $2,000, while those only deposed will receive $1,000 each.
PAM also agreed to stop charging $10 service fees for wage advances and to stop withholding wages on payday due to late paperwork.
An approval hearing in this matter is scheduled for July 31, 2020.
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