For some time there has been debate about what activities do and do not constitute “hours worked.” An Employer is required to compensate an employee for all hours worked. “Hours worked” is defined as “time during which an employee is subject to the control of an Employer, and includes all the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.” Just recently, the California Supreme Court provides us with some new insight of what activity is considered compensable time.
In Frlekin v. Apple, Inc., the Court considered whether Apple’s exit searches, which impose mandatory searches of employees’ bags, packages, purses, backpacks, brief cases, and personal Apple technology devices, such as an iPhone, constituted “hours worked”, therefore triggering compensation.
The California Supreme Court held that the employee’s time spent on the employer’s premise waiting for, and undergoing the required exit searches of bags and other personal items brought to work purely for personal convenience was compensable time.
The Court rejected Apple’s argument that an exit search was not compensable time, because an employee could avoid searches by choosing not to bring a bag, package or personal Apple technology device to work. The Court took a broad approach and stated that in order to determine whether time is compensable, it is important to look into the level of control over the employee and other relevant factors such as whether activity is required, location of activity, whose benefit the activity is for.
Most significantly, the Court expressly stated that this ruling applies retroactively, which means Employers will be subject to claims for unpaid wages. Employer should take steps to cut off liability because each day that you are compliant, is one less day of potential liability. In light of this new decision, Employers should take time reviewing their practices and existing policies to ensure that employees are being properly compensated for all hours worked.
If you would like to discuss any policies or practices you have in place, please contact Employer lawyers at Chauvel & Glatt.
The material in this article, provided by Chauvel & Glatt, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the post. It should not be considered, nor is it intended to constitute, legal advice or promise similar outcomes. For information on your particular circumstances, please contact Chauvel & Glatt at 650-573-9500.