When former employees of a provider and installer of large medical diagnostic equipment made claims for unpaid overtime, the employer requested an opinion from the Department of Labor on whether the employees were exempt. The medical installation technicians traveled throughout the Western Hemisphere to install large medical diagnostic equipment. The travel issue prompted an inquiry of "can you smell gas in the performance of the employees' duties," which was answered in the affirmative. If in the course of their duties employees smell gas, consider the Motor Carriers Act exemption to the requirements for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The employees traveled from their home bases to customer sites by rental or leased vehicle to install, de-install, and relocate medical equipment. The vehicles usually used for the jobs were vans or light trucks; occasionally the installers traveled to the customer's place of business via commercial airline flights. Claiming the combination of travel time and installation time often amounted to more than 40 hours per week, the technicians claimed they were entitled to overtime pay for the hours they worked over 40 per week.
The travel issue prompted the inquiry of "can you smell gas in the performance of the employees' duties," which was answered in the affirmative. The employer's analysis of the situation resulted in a determination that, in fact, the medical installation technicians were exempt from the payment of overtime under the MCA. Subsequently, the employer requested an Advisory Opinion from the Department of Labor, which confirmed the exemption.
As a reminder not to overlook the possibility that employees may be exempt from overtime under the Motor Carriers Act exemption, a good test is, can employees smell fuel during the performance of their jobs? If yes, the employer should conduct a review under the MCA to determine whether the exemption applies.
The DOL's Advisory Opinion confirming the medical installation technicians are exempt under the Motor Carriers Act is below.