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  • Christina M. Kotowski, Esq. Kotowski Law Firm

Small Amounts of Off-the-Clock Work


California Employers Have an Increased Obligation to Track and Pay Employees for Even Small Amounts of Off-the-Clock Work

A July 2018 decision of the California Supreme Court, Troester v. Starbucks, significantly increased employers’ responsibility to ensure that they are recording and paying California employees for all hours worked. Federal law has long permitted employers to disregard a few minutes of employee time worked off-the-clock when it is administratively difficult to record the time, even if this “de minimis” time occurs on a regular basis. This same “de minimis” rule had been assumed to apply in California, but the Troester case decided otherwise: “[California laws] do not allow employers to require employees to routinely work for minutes off-the-clock without compensation.” A Starbucks store supervisor filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that he was regularly required to perform closing tasks at the end of the shift after he clocked out, such as activating the store alarm, walking other employees to their cars, letting employees back into the store to retrieve forgotten items, and bringing forgotten patio furniture back inside. These tasks were estimated to take 4 to 10 minutes each day, resulting in $102.67 in unpaid time over a 17-month period (not counting fines, penalties and attorneys’ fees). The California Supreme Court agreed that these daily tasks were work time that needed to be paid, but recognized that there might be other situations where an employee’s time worked is so irregular or brief that it need not be paid. California employers should carefully review their operations to be sure that employees are not working without compensation before or after their shifts start, and take steps to account and pay for all working time. If you have questions about this case, please contact Christina Kotowski of the Kotowski Law Firm. www.kotowskilaw.com

Christina M. Kotowski, Esq. Kotowski Law Firm 2601 Blanding Ave. #C386 Alameda, CA 94501 christy@kotowskilaw.com www.kotowskilaw.com (510) 748-0930 office (510) 332-5349 mobile

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