Bedoya v. American Eagle Express, Inc.
In this case, delivery drivers sued American Eagle Express, Inc., alleging that the company improperly classified them as independent contractors rather than employees for purposes of the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law (NJWHL) and New Jersey Wage Payment Law (NJWPL), and therefore deprived them of various of the wage rights they were due as employees under those laws. AEX moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the that the drivers’ claims are preempted by a provision in the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) that prohibits states from enacting or enforcing laws “related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier … with respect to the transportation of property.” The district court denied the motion.
On interlocutory appeal to the Third Circuit, we filed an amicus brief in support of the drivers, explaining that because the state laws at issue do not relate to motor carrier prices, routes, or services, they are not preempted by the FAAAA. The Third Circuit affirmed, explaining that any effect the New Jersey law for determining employment status for NJWHL and NJWPL purposes has on prices, routes, or services with respect to the transportation of property is tenuous and insignificant, and that, therefore, the law is not preempted.
American Eagle Express then sought review in the U.S. Supreme Court, where we served as co-counsel for the drivers. The Court denied the petition.