Most delivery drivers are happy to not be hauling freight over long distances. Let those interstate truckers sleep in their cabs overnight and munch on truck-stop fare. We get to come home each night. We stay rooted in our neighborhoods.
While all that remains true, it turns out that local delivery drivers and long-haul truckers both engage in interstate commerce. At least according to two recent court rulings. Not even Amazon could convince the courts otherwise.
Courts Side With Drivers Over Amazon
During the past month, two different US Circuit Courts on opposite sides of the country have both ruled that drivers doing local Amazon deliveries are working in interstate commerce. Interstate commerce means the large-scale exchange of goods between places in different states. In the most recent case, the court said that to be counted as interstate commerce the “workers did not themselves need to cross state lines…because they deliver goods shipped from across the United States.” In other words, if your work is part of a supply chain where goods move from state to state, it doesn’t matter if your link in the chain happens to fall within just one state. It’s still considered “interstate” commerce.
Why It Matters
Does that matter as long as you’re home in time for supper? Well, it can. The driver in this case was suing Amazon as part of a group of drivers who had banded together to claim that Amazon wasn’t treating them right. This type of lawsuit is called a class action because the group is referred to as a “class”. Amazon claimed the drivers couldn’t join forces. Instead, they had to arbitrate their disputes separately. Amazon argued this was an enforceable part of their contracts according to a law called the Federal Arbitration Act.
The drivers pointed out that the law said it didn’t apply to transportation workers doing interstate commerce. They claimed that’s the kind of work they do. Because the courts agreed with the drivers, the Arbitration Act doesn’t apply. And without that law Amazon can’t stop the drivers’ class-action lawsuit. The drivers’ claims against Amazon will now move forward. It’s still too early to know if the drivers will actually win or lose, but they get their day in court together.
And all because some of those packages you drop off started out in another state, making you a part of the interstate commerce supply chain.
Peter Schlactus, CRM, CIC, AAI
Association for Delivery Drivers www.a4dd.org