On July 26, 2018, the California Supreme Court came to a unanimous decision about employees being paid for minor tasks that are performed off the clock. It is California law that employers cannot require their workers to work off the clock without compensation no matter how small the task, but this law recently came into the spotlight due to a Starbucks employee’s complaint.
According to the New York Times, the employee said he spent a few minutes every night performing closing duties and walking coworkers to their cars after clocking out of his shift. Although these tasks seem minor, Justice Goodwin Liu argued that even just a few minutes of off-the-clock work every day can really add up to a significant amount of pay.
Once added up, the amount of time the Starbucks employee was suing for was almost 13 hours over a 17-month period. This may not seem like a lot, but that is approximately $102 that he should’ve been paid. Liu wrote that this could’ve been used towards a utility bill, or even a week of groceries.
PBS News Hour reported that the U.S. District Court rejected his lawsuit at first, saying that the time he spent on these small tasks was insignificant. But that is when the California Supreme Court stepped in to argue that this seemingly small amount of time can add up.
The federal court also argued that this time is difficult to track, but Liu said employers either need to implement new technology to track it, or streamline employees’ duties so that they do not have any additional tasks once they clock out.
This is a huge win for hourly employees because Starbucks isn’t the only company that follows these procedures. This could possibly prompt additional lawsuits for other companies that operate similarly to Starbucks. Employees aren’t required to be paid for every second they are in the workplace, but tasks such as locking the door after closing time and setting the alarm need to be compensated accordingly.
The case is Troester v. Starbucks, California Supreme Court, No. S234969.
The employment attorneys at PARRIS often go head-to-head against large corporations if their clients are not being fairly compensated by their employers. In the past 35 years, we’ve recovered $498,512,501 for employees all across the country. If your employer is not paying you for your hard work, call us today for a free consultation. We will hold them accountable and make sure your rights as an employee are protected.