A number of employers will be on the hook for compensation which has until now been deemed too negligible to account for. In this case it was Starbucks defending their current practices, but the verdict opens the door to lawsuits with many employers across the state.
The case (Troester v. Starbucks) was brought forward by Douglas Troester, a Starbucks employee that believed he was entitled to compensation for time spent closing after clocking out. He estimated about 4 to 10 minutes each day spent on things like setting the alarm, locking the front door and walking co-workers to their cars.
The case was originally thrown out by a US District Court who stated the amount of unpaid time in question was too minimal to bother with. There’s actually a legal term, de minimus, which says essentially that courts will not waste their time with trivial issues.
Last month however, a California Supreme Court unanimously decided that over the course of many shifts, it would “add up”. According to LA-based attorney Bryan Lazarski who works on claims against employers, the ruling will also apply to time spent completing tasks before clocking in.
This decision will have many California employers concerned about similar legislation being brought against them. Anyone who has ever been in charge of opening/closing up at their place of employment understands that a portion of the time is going to be unaccounted for. It will be up to employers to either be proactive in compensating for this time, or employees for seeking reconciliatory action.
The basic truth is that when it comes to matters of pay, it should be the responsibility of employers to absorb any irregularities and not the employees. Simply adding a few minutes of pay onto the employee in charge of opening or closing a store should be sufficient to smooth any ruffled feathers.
Fortunately it is no longer an acceptable excuse for an employer to say fully compensating employees is too difficult for them to bother with.
John Rosenbaum is a trusted Orange County attorney that has fought for employee rights for decades. If you believe that you may need legal representation, contact our offices today for your free, no obligation consultation.
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