United States District Court, D. Alaska
ORDER RE MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND SCHEDULING
L. GLEASON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court at Docket 35 is Defendant URS Midwest, Inc.'s
(“URS”) Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff
William Sleeper opposed at Docket 40. URS replied at Docket
44. Oral argument was held on April 30, 2018, at Anchorage,
Alaska, before Judge Sharon L. Gleason.
provides vehicle transportation services for customers in the
United States and Canada. Its Alaska drivers continue the
transportation of vehicles that have been shipped to Alaska,
delivering them to customers in Fairbanks, Prudhoe Bay, and
other locations within the state.
Sleeper worked as a truck driver for URS from February 21,
2012, until October 26, 2016. During his employment for URS,
Mr. Sleeper's primary route was between Anchorage and
Prudhoe Bay. As compensation, URS paid Mr. Sleeper on a
commission basis of 23 or 24% of the net revenue generated
per line trip. Mr. Sleeper could also receive an amount
of up to 3% of net revenue through the Quality Fund Bonus
Program. Payment of these funds depended on Mr.
Sleeper's successfully completing each trip without the
vehicles he was transporting sustaining any
damage. Mr. Sleeper was also paid $15 per hour for
light maintenance and a flat fee of $100 for washing the
truck and trailer assigned to him. Mr. Sleeper states that his
job duties included a number of tasks in addition to driving
and that he was not paid overtime despite regularly working
over 8 hours per day and over 40 hours per
February 8, 2017, Mr. Sleeper filed a Complaint in the
Superior Court for the State of Alaska, Third Judicial
District at Anchorage. On March 31, 2017, URS removed the
case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1441. Mr. Sleeper asserts in the Complaint
that “[d]uring the course of his employment, URS
Midwest, Inc. required Mr. Sleeper to perform job duties
other than truck driving, and for these additional duties,
URS Midwest, Inc. did not pay any overtime payments for these
duties, even if these required hours of work exceeded 40 per
week.” Mr. Sleeper also asserts that he was
never paid “for those hours that he worked that
exceeded 40 hours a week, or exceeded 8 hours a day, even
though Mr. Sleeper worked overtime hours pursuing the clear
expectations of his employer.” Mr. Sleeper also asserts
that URS “illegally withheld, and deducted,
compensation he had earned as part of his commission pay . .
. .” Based on these allegations, Mr. Sleeper
brings claims against URS for violations of the Fair Labor
Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq.
(“FLSA”), and the Alaska Wage and Hour Act, AS
23.10.050, et seq. (“AWHA”).
February 19, 2018, URS filed the instant Motion for Summary
Jurisdiction and Applicable Law
Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331
because this is a civil action with certain claims arising
under federal law, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. The
Court has supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's
related state law claims. The Court also has diversity
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because this
is a civil action between citizens of different states, and
the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00, exclusive of
interest and costs.
Court applies federal procedural law; Alaska substantive law
applies to the state law claims. Whether federal law
preempts state law claims is a question of federal
Standard for Summary Judgment
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) directs a court to grant
summary judgment if the movant “shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” When
considering a motion for summary judgment, “[t]he
evidence of the nonmovant is to be believed, and all
justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his [or her]
favor.” To reach the level of a genuine dispute,
the evidence must be such “that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the non-moving
party.” If the evidence provided by the
non-moving party is “merely colorable” or
“not significantly probative, ” summary judgment
FLSA requires employers to pay overtime wages to employees
who work more than 40 hours per week. Pursuant to
the Motor Carrier Act (“MCA”) exemption under the
FLSA, this requirement does not apply to employees who drive
a motor vehicle “in interstate or foreign
AWHA, like the FLSA, requires employers to pay overtime
wages. AS 23.10.060 provides:
An employer who employs employees engaged in commerce or
other business, or in the production of goods or materials in
the state, may not employ an employee for a workweek longer
than 40 hours or for more than eight hours a day. . . . If an
employer finds it necessary to employ an employee for hours
in excess of the[se] limits . . . overtime compensation for
the overtime at the rate of one and one-half times the
regular rate of pay shall be paid.
23.10.060(d) exempts several categories of employees from the
overtime requirement, including:
[A]n individual employed as a line haul truck driver for a
trip that exceeds 100 road miles one way if the compensation
system under which the truck driver is paid includes overtime
pay for work in excess of 40 hours a week or for more than
eight hours a day and the compensation system requires a rate
of pay comparable to the rate of pay required by this
Sleeper contends that URS did not fulfill its requirements
under the FLSA and AWHA and that he is entitled to damages as
a result. In response, URS makes a number of
assertions to support its motion for summary judgment. Each
is discussed in turn below.
Motor Carrier Act Exemption
asserts that Mr. Sleeper was exempt from FLSA overtime wage
requirements, pursuant to the MCA exemption. The FLSA exempts
“any employee with respect to whom the Secretary of
Transportation has power to establish qualifications and
maximum hours of service pursuant to the provisions of
section 31502 of Title 49.” Section 31502(b) permits
the Secretary to establish:
(1) qualifications and maximum hours of service of employees
of, and safety of operation and equipment of, a motor
carrier; and (2) qualifications and maximum hours
of service of employees of, and standards of equipment of, a
motor private carrier,  when needed to promote safety of
Secretary of Transportation's power “extends to
those classes of employees and those only who: (1) Are
employed by carriers whose transportation of passengers or
property by motor vehicle is subject to his jurisdiction
under section 204 of the Motor Carrier Act . . . and (2)
engage in activities of a character directly affecting the
safety of operation of motor vehicles in the transportation
on the public highways of passengers or property in
interstate or foreign commerce with the meaning of the Motor
asserts that Mr. Sleeper was exempt from the FLSA overtime
wage provision under the MCA exemption pursuant to 29 C.F.R.
§ 782.3 because he drove a motor vehicle in interstate
or foreign commerce. Mr. Sleeper maintains that the MCA
exemption does not apply to him because he “never
traveled outside of Alaska” for URS during the
timeframe at issue.
driver may engage in interstate commerce so as to fall under
the MCA even if he does not travel out of state.
“Transportation within a single State is in interstate
commerce within the meaning of the Fair Labor Standards Act
where it forms a part of a ‘practical continuity of
movement' across State lines from the point of origin to
the point of destination.”
Sleeper's circumstances mirror those of the plaintiff in
Klitzke v. Steiner Corp., a salesman who
“contend[ed] that because his route [was] entirely
within the state of Oregon, his hours of work [were] not
subject to regulation by the Secretary.” There, the
plaintiff delivered products that had been shipped to his
company's Oregon warehouse from out of state vendors. As
the Ninth Circuit explained, the plaintiff's “route
is entirely within Oregon, but over half of his deliveries
are items received from out of state.” The Circuit
held that the goods from out of state that the plaintiff
delivered entirely intrastate were in “continuous
transportation” until delivered to customers.
Therefore, the plaintiff's intrastate deliveries
constituted engaging in interstate commerce. Similarly,
the vehicles Mr. Sleeper delivered within Alaska had
originated from out of state. As Mr. Sleeper explained during
Counsel for URS: “[W]here would you
typically start your routes for United Road?”
Mr. Sleeper: “At-at our yard.”
Counsel: “At the yards in
Mr. Sleeper: “At our yard in
Anchorage, yes, because most of the vehicles that I hauled
had special outfitting requirements. So they were shipped up
here . . . to our yard in Anchorage, and that's where I
would load them.”
Counsel: I see. So to be clear, the
automobiles you were transporting would first come from a
ship into Anchorage, correct?
Mr. Sleeper: Right.
Counsel: Do you know where those ships were
Mr. Sleeper: Well, Tacoma, I think.
Mr. Sleeper: Seattle-Tacoma, Washington,
on the foregoing, it is clear that Mr. Sleeper's
deliveries were part of the “continuous
transportation” of vehicles that originated in other
states, such that the MCA exemption applies. Viewing the
evidence in the light most favorable to Mr. Sleeper, he has
not shown there are disputed material facts on this issue and
URS is entitled to judgment as a matter of law as to the FLSA
overtime wage claim.
extent that Mr. Sleeper relies on the FLSA for his claim that
URS unlawfully withheld or deducted wages by not paying him
the Quality Fund bonus, this claim fails.
the FLSA guarantees employees a minimum wage and overtime
pay, Mr. Sleeper's contentions regarding illegal
withholdings and deductions are based on an agreed-upon bonus
system and are unrelated to the FLSA's
argument, counsel for Mr. Sleeper argued that URS had
violated the FLSA by failing to pay him the minimum wage for
sleeper berth hours. Counsel relied on Ridgeway v.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., which held that under California
law, employers must pay truck drivers at least the minimum
hourly wage during mandatory layover periods.Mr.
Sleeper's Complaint does not assert that URS violated the
FLSA by failing to pay minimum wage, and the parties did not
brief this issue. Furthermore, during his deposition Mr.
Sleeper affirmed that he was “not claiming . . . [to
be] owed compensation for time in the sleeper
berth.” At oral argument, the Court advised Mr.
Sleeper that he could file a motion seeking to amend his
complaint; he has not done so. Accordingly, the Court
declines to further address this argument.
foregoing reasons, summary judgment is granted to URS on Mr.
Sleeper's claims under the FLSA.
Preemption of AWHA Claim 
asserts that Mr. Sleeper's AWHA claim also fails because
it is preempted by federal law. As the United States
Supreme Court has explained,
A fundamental principle of the Constitution is that Congress
has the power to preempt state law. Even without an express
provision for preemption, we have found that state law must
yield to a congressional Act in at least two circumstances.
When Congress intends federal law to “occupy the field,
” state law in that area is preempted. And even if
Congress has not occupied the field, state law is naturally
preempted to the extent of any conflict with a federal
statute. We will find preemption where it is impossible for a
private party to comply with both state and federal law . . .
and where under the circumstances of a particular case, the
challenged state law stands as an obstacle to the
accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and
objectives of Congress. What is a sufficient obstacle is a
matter of judgment, to be informed by examining the federal
statute as a whole and identifying its purpose and intended
effects . . . .
contends that the Court should find Mr. Sleeper's AWHA
claim is conflict preempted because “[c]ompliance with
the AWHA as it concerns line haul truck drivers subject to
the authority of the Secretary of Transportation completely
undermines the loosening of overtime and ...