PAM Transport faces another class action wage lawsuit

August 13, 2021

Tyson Fisher

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A former driver for PAM Transport has filed a class action lawsuit alleging the company intentionally paid drivers below federal and state minimum wages for all hours worked.

On Aug. 6, Lee Vazquez, a former driver for Tontitown, Ark.-based PAM Transport, filed a lawsuit in an Arkansas federal district court accusing the trucking company of violating the state and federal wage laws, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and the Electronic Funds Transfer Act.

Vazquez, on behalf of potentially thousands of drivers, claims PAM Transport did not compensate for all hours worked, including unpaid hours worked after leaving the company. Additionally, Vazquez claims the company loaned drivers advances and charged them an exorbitant rate plus fees.

Allegations against PAM Transport

According to the complaint, drivers claim PAM Transport allegedly underpaid thousands of drivers from Jan. 1, 2020 to the present.

Similar to other wage lawsuits, Vazquez claims that all time spent over the road is compensable due to the strict control PAM Transport has over drivers. Specifically, the complaint claims the company requires drivers “to remain over-the-road in or in the general proximity of their assigned truck for more than 24 consecutive hours during multiday and multiweek tours of duty.”

In addition to unpaid work-related activities, like fueling and routine maintenance, Vazquez claims that activities such as sleeping are compensable due to the fact that PAM Transport requires to stay with the truck to protect customers’ property. Drivers were never paid for that time.

Accounting for that unpaid time, which is at least 16 hours a day on the road, drivers claim they were paid below minimum wage.

Missing wages also apply to any paychecks received upon termination that do not reflect the claimed compensable work hours.

Vazquez also alleges unlawful deductions. She claims PAM Transport deducts $25 a week until $500 accrues in an escrow account. Additionally, drivers who attended its CDL school are charged $45 per week to repay loans.

Drivers also have the opportunity to receive an advance on paychecks. However, that comes in the form of a loan that charges drivers more than 10% per annum. According to Arkansas state law, an employer cannot discount wages for pay advances at a rate more than 10% per annum from the date of payment to the regular payday. Since those advances go through electronic payment processor Comdata, Vazquez also is claims violations of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act.

Additionally, the federal RICO Act makes it illegal for a company to receive income through the collection of unlawful debt when engaging in interstate commerce. Consequently, the lawsuit claims RICO violations due to the “usurious advance charges.”

Browne v. PAM Transport

Vazquez’s lawsuit states that it does not seek damages for any claim released in a similar lawsuit PAM Transport settled.

Last July, PAM Transport settled a class action case filed by former driver David Browne for $16.5 million. Browne accused the trucking company of underpaying its drivers. Both parties reached a settlement just one day before the trial was scheduled to begin.

Although some of Vazquez’s claims are nearly identical to Browne’s there are some key differences. First, the Browne case included orientation times, which Vazquez does not. While Browne focused only on federal and state wage laws, Vazquez adds violations of the RICO and  EFT acts.

Most importantly, eligible settlement class members in the Browne case include over-the-road drivers for PAM Transport from Dec. 9, 2013, to Dec. 31, 2019. Essentially, the Vazquez lawsuit picks up where the Browne case left off by representing drivers from Jan. 1, 2020, to the present. LL

 

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Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.