Since 2019, we have been tracking the decisions struggling to interpret the scope of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) Section 1 exemption for transportation workers. In other words, we’ve looked at who qualifies as a transportation worker “actually engaged in the movement of goods in interstate commerce,” as Circuit City Stores Inc. v. Adams, 532 U.S. 105, 119 (2001) defined it, without explaining the definition.
Now Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the Northern District of California has applied the transportation worker definition in a class action case in which a former mail sorter for UPS Mail Innovations, Inc. (UPSMI) sued UPSMI and Staffmark Investment, LLC (Staffmark), a staffing agency, with five class action claims and a representative claim under the California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). Five of those claims related to failure to provide meal periods, rest breaks, wages and improper practices involving that conduct. In response, Staffmark and UPSMI sought to compel arbitration of the individual claims, to dismiss the class claims and to stay the PAGA claims. Judge Freeman ultimately rejected Tracee Sheppard’s argument that she was a transportation worker exempt from the FAA, granted the motions to compel arbitration, dismissed the class claims and remanded the PAGA claim to state court. Sheppard v. Staffmark Investment, LLC, No. 20-cv-05443 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 23, 2021). Continue Reading