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California Supreme Court Rules Employers Must Pay for Minutes Worked Off-the-Clock

SUMMARY:  Last July, in another blow to employers, the California Supreme Court refused to apply the federal de minimis rule, which states employers do not need to pay employees for insignificant amounts of time spent performing work-related tasks off-the-clock, where tracking such time is difficult.  In that case, the Plaintiff, a shift supervisor at Starbucks, filed a class action lawsuit alleging the company did not compensate him and other employees for tasks at closing accomplished off the clock, such as shutting off computers, locking the door, and setting the store’s alarm.  These tasks took an additional four to ten minutes to complete.


RULE:  The California Supreme Court sided with the employee and stated the de minimis rule did not excuse the business from paying for the time.  While the Court declined to determine whether other circumstances may excuse an employer from compensating employees for small amounts of working time, it held that, in cases where the employer requires employees to work minutes off-the-clock on a regular basis, the business compensate workers for their time.


TAKEAWAYS:  Employers may wish to revisit their practices to ensure they track and compensate employees for all work-related time.  New technology is available to better track employees’ time.  Businesses should also review and amend written policies and train supervisors and managers to investigate all claims of off-the-clock work regardless of how insignificant they may seem.

Troester v. Starbucks Corp.
Please contact Ricardo Rozen for more information.