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|"Local delivery drivers" are not exempt
from the Federal Arbitration Act
Lopez v. Cintas
Corp (5th Cir 08/30/2022)
Sent to Custom Alerts™
subscribers on 08/31/2022
Lopez was a local delivery driver for Cintas Corporation. That
means he picked up items from a Houston warehouse (items shipped
from out of state) and delivered them to local customers.
When Lopez sued claiming a violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act, the employer moved to compel arbitration because
Lopez's employment contract included an arbitration agreement.
Lopez argued he was exempt from arbitration because he belongs
to a "class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce"
under §1 of the Federal Arbitration Act.
The 5th Circuit
held in favor of the employer, so Lopez's claim will go to
The 5th Circuit followed the two-step
analytical path set out in Southwest Airlines v. Saxon,
142 S. Ct. 1783 (2022). In that case the US Supreme Court held
that an airline ramp supervisor belongs to a "class of workers
engaged in foreign or interstate commerce" to which §1's exemption
First, the Supreme court defined the
relevant "class of workers," and held that Saxon is a member of a
"class of workers" based on what she frequently does at Southwest
– that is, physically loading and unloading cargo on and off
airplanes – and not on what Southwest does generally.
Second, the Court held that the class of airplane cargo
loaders is "engaged in foreign or interstate commerce" because
those workers are directly involved in transporting goods across
state or international borders.Applying
Southwest Airlines v. Saxon to local delivery drivers:
First, the court defined the relevant "class of
workers" that Lopez belongs to. Lopez belongs to a "class of
workers" – "local delivery drivers" – that picks up items from a
local warehouse and delivers those items to local customers, with
an emphasis on sales and customer service.Thus,
Lopez is not in a class of workers engaged in interstate commerce,
and is not exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act's requirement
that his agreement to arbitrate must be enforced.
the court determined whether that class of workers is "engaged in
foreign or interstate commerce." The court pointed out that these
drivers "take items from a local warehouse to local customers;
these drivers enter the scene after the goods have already been
delivered across state lines." "Once the goods arrived at the
Houston warehouse and were unloaded, anyone interacting with those
goods was no longer engaged in interstate commerce."
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