P.A.M. Transport ordered to pay $2M to drivers in wage lawsuit
February 10, 2020
Thousands of truckers for P.A.M. Transport are entitled to their share of at least $2 million for lost wages. However, that sum can be much more as other claims make their way to trial.
On Feb. 6, Judge Timothy L. Brooks of the U.S. District Court in the western district of Arkansas ordered Tontitown, Ark.-based P.A.M. Transport to pay a class of truckers nearly $2 million. The order comes after Judge Brooks granted the drivers summary judgment for some of its claims.
More specifically, the $2 million judgment is for all time logged as “driving” and “on duty not driving” that led to less than minimum wage when accounted for. The order also includes wages not paid for rest breaks of 20 minutes or less. Both claims fall under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act.
Potentially, drivers could get paid much more as the case moves along. Claims that truckers must be paid minimum wage for 16 hours of every day on tour are still pending. Also, damages stemming from alleged violations of last-payment rule and whether P.A.M. Transport’s acts were willful still need to be argued.
Since the court denied summary judgment on claims that P.A.M. Transport acted willfully, the recent order only includes two years of federal labor law claims. However, if a jury finds that P.A.M. Transport acted willfully and not in good faith, drivers may receive lost wages for a third year.
P.A.M. Transport’s pay structure
In December 2016, a class action lawsuit was filed against P.A.M. Transport on claims of violating federal and state minimum wage laws.
According to the complaint, drivers were required to remain over-the-road in or in the general proximity of their assigned truck for more than 24 consecutive hours. Allegedly, drivers were on duty “continually for days and weeks on end.”
Per Arkansas regulations, 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 is work time and must be paid, minus meal periods. Plaintiffs argue they are entitled to 16 hours of pay because they were required to do the following during that time:
- Drive a P.A.M. Transport truck.
- Remain in the truck while the truck was moving so they could assist in transporting the cargo (team drivers).
- Wait for cargo to be loaded or unloaded while in the truck or its immediate vicinity.
- Fuel up the truck and perform routine maintenance.
- Remain in the vicinity of the truck to help protect P.A.M. Transport’s customers’ property.
- Remain inside the truck when stopped to log time in the sleeper berth and to help protect customer’s property.
Drivers also cite another Arkansas law that states travel that keeps an employee away from home overnight which is completed during regular working hours is work time and must be paid.
The lawsuit also alleges unlawful Comdata card fees. P.A.M. Transport drivers were paid wages via a Comdata card. According to the complaint, P.A.M. Transport received interest on money left in accounts until the drivers used the Comdata card. Furthermore, fees were charged for checking balances on an ATM, to access money and to transfer to a bank account. Consequently, those deductions led to wages less than minimum wage.
P.A.M. Transport drivers claim other unlawful deductions, including $25 a week until $500 was accumulated in an escrow account. The company also charged a $10 fee for advances up to $75. Additionally, $45 was deducted each week for about six weeks for a two-week CDL school drivers attended before beginning orientation. These deductions also resulted in wages that were less than minimum wage.
P.A.M. Transport agreed to pay drivers interest on the $500 on a quarterly basis at an annual rate of 8%. Drivers accuse the company of not honoring that agreement.
Lastly, drivers claim unlawful deductions of final paychecks. More specifically, a driver’s last paycheck can face deductions for failure to turn in all trip envelopes and bills of lading, damage to vehicle or cargo, failure to meet one-year employment commitment and incurred expenses due to termination (e.g., out-of-route miles, towing, etc.). According to the lawsuit those deductions are not to be taken from at the time of discharge under Arkansas law.