Supreme Court Decision: Off-Duty Time Compensable

In February, the California Supreme Court issued a ruling regarding compensation for off-duty time.  The case was brought by a class of Apple employees that claimed they were required to work off the clock.  Apple has a policy that, if an employee brings a bag to work, the employee must have a security guard or store manager search the bag prior to leaving at the end of their shift.  The employees had to clock-out prior to the search. Employees claimed that it could take between 15-30 minutes to get a security guard or manager to search the bag. 

Employees claimed this was compensable time because Apple required them to stay at the store until the search was completed.   Apple claimed it was not compensable because employees were not required to bring bags to work, and, if the employee did not bring a bag, they did not have to wait for the search. 

The CA Supreme Court sided with the employees and found this was compensable time.  This is consistent with a 2018 case against Starbucks involving a claim that employees had uncompensated time for the duration of time between unlocking the doors in the morning and clocking-in and the time between locking the doors after they clocked-out.  Starbucks claimed this was de minimus time that was not compensable.  The California Supreme Court disagreed and found that these employees should be compensated for this “off the clock” time.  

This is a good reminder for employers to ensure employees are not required to perform any tasks before they clock-in or after they clock-out. 

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