Cases & Deals

BNSF, Union Pacific defeat putative class action claims under Washington State's rest-break law

Client(s) BNSF Railway Company and Union Pacific Railroad Company

On behalf of BNSF Railway Company and Union Pacific Railroad Company, Jones Day secured the dismissal of putative class action claims that had been brought against the railroads under Washington State’s rest-break law. The court in the Eastern District of Washington agreed with the courts in California and held that the claims under an analogous Washington law were also preempted. This decision follows the dismissal of claims against Union Pacific Railroad Company that had been brought on behalf of a putative class of employees who alleged that the railroad had violated California law by not providing them with a paid 10-minute rest period for every four hours of work. Granting Jones Day's motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court agreed that Washington's rest-period laws cannot be applied to railroad employees because they are subject to field preemption due to the Hours of Service Act, and preempted by the FRSA and the Adamson Act. This victory, which builds on the dismissal of similar claims obtained by Jones Day in Sumlin v. BNSF Railway Company, (C.D. Cal.), further establishes that railroads are not required to stop their trains every four hours to provide employees with rest periods as the plaintiffs had claimed—a theory that threatened the viability of all freight rail operations in Washington.

Logan v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, No. 2-17-cv-00394 (E.D. Wash.)