State Update
Driver sues Tacoma-based company for OT wages

By Clarissa Kell-Holland
staff writer


A former driver for Interstate Distributor Co. has filed a lawsuit against the Tacoma, WA-based company, claiming it failed to pay him and other drivers legally required overtime wages.

The lawsuit was filed in June by former Interstate driver Larry Westberry of Jesup, GA, in Pierce County Superior Court in Washington state. According to the lawsuit, Westberry drove for Interstate for four years, from 2003 to 2007.

The suit claims that Washington law, as interpreted in a 2007 state Supreme Court case, requires that drivers be paid overtime for time worked in excess of 40 hours, even if that time is logged out of state. The drivers are to be paid “at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which (they are) employed.” The lawsuit includes a request for class-action status to include a number of drivers in addition to Westberry.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal, which allowed the state Supreme Court ruling to stand as law.

The lawsuit states that Westberry worked between 60 and 70 hours per week and was compensated on the same per-mile basis regardless of how many hours he worked.

The suit was filed by the Seattle-based law firm of Bendich, Stobaugh & Strong, which specializes in employment-related cases.

DeWelle Ellsworth, attorney for the law firm, said he has heard from Interstate drivers from all over the country who are interested in finding out more about the case.

Renee Trueblood, Interstate’s senior vice president of human resources and corporate counsel, was not available for comment on the pending lawsuit. Interstate, which is owned by the McLean family, has more than 3,200 employees and provides truckload services to the lower 48 states and Canada. LL