Transportation Workers Might Be Able to Sue in Court Rather than Be Required to Arbitrate

Transportation Workers Might Be Able to Sue in Court Rather than Be Required to Arbitrate

The U.S. Supreme Court recently clarified that transportation workers engaged in interstate commerce are exempt from mandatory arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). This exemption extends beyond traditional transportation industry employees like those at FedEx. It might allow other transportation workers, even in private fleets, to pursue court action instead of arbitration.

The case involved Neal Bissonnette and Tyler Wojnarowski, distributors for Flowers Foods Inc., known for Wonder Bread and other baked goods. They alleged underpayment and unjust enrichment. Flowers argued for arbitration based on contracts signed by Bissonnette and Wojnarowski. The key legal question was whether transportation workers need to be in the transportation industry for the FAA exemption to apply.

The court ruled that the exemption doesn’t require transportation workers to be in a specific industry. Instead, they must be actively engaged in interstate commerce. This ruling narrows the scope of exemption, preventing a broad application that would include workers like pet shop employees or grocery store clerks. However, the court didn’t address whether the plaintiffs were indeed transportation workers or engaged in interstate commerce, leaving those issues for further proceedings.

The decision ensures that transportation workers involved in interstate commerce have the option to sue in court rather than being forced into arbitration.

The case was remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.

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