From California Labor and Employment Law Review, Vol. 28, No. 3, May 2014
Wage and Hour Update
By Steven G. Pearl
U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies FLSA Donning and Doffing Rules
Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp., 134 S. Ct. 870 (2014)
In Sandifer, the Supreme Court of the United States considered the meaning of the phrase "changing clothes" in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq.).
Clifton Sandifer sued U.S. Steel under the FLSA for time spent donning and doffing various pieces of protective gear. U.S. Steel argued that the time was not compensable under the parties' collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and under § 203(o) of the FLSA, which allows parties to agree, as part of a CBA, that "time spent in changing clothes . . . at the beginning or end of each workday" is not compensable.s
The district court granted summary judgment on those grounds and also on grounds that any time spent in donning and doffing non-clothing protective gear was de minimis. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, as did the Supreme Court, holding:
The Court declined to apply the de minimis doctrine to the compensable time spent donning and doffing non-clothing items. Instead, the Court held:
Note: On March 3, 2104, the Supreme Court accepted certiorari in another FLSA case to consider the Ninth Circuit's holding that the time Amazon employees spent in security checks could be compensable. Busk v. Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc., 713 F.3d 525 (9th Cir. 2013), cert. granted, 188 L. Ed. 2d 374 (Mar. 3, 2014) (No. 13-433).
Court Explores Limits of Expense Reimbursement Liability
Vasquez v. Franklin Mgm't Real Estate Fund, Inc., 222 Cal. App. 4th 819 (2013)
The plaintiff, a $10-per-hour employee, alleged that his employer required him to use his own vehicle for work, but refused to reimburse him for gas and mileage. He filed suit, alleging constructive wrongful termination in violation of public policy (constructive discharge) and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED).
The trial court sustained demurrers without leave to amend, and the plaintiff appealed. The court of appeal reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding:
Court Dismisses Cal. Lab. Code § 2810 Contractor Claim as Too Speculative
Hawkins v. Taca Int'l Airlines, S.A., 223 Cal. App. 4th 466 (2014)
Arlette Hawkins filed a class action complaint against her former employer (Sereca) and a number of airlines (the airline defendants), alleging that they violated Cal. Lab. Code § 2810, which prohibits labor contracts that fail to "include funds sufficient to allow the contractor to comply with all applicable local, state, and federal laws or regulations governing the labor or services to be provided."
The airline defendants demurred to the § 2810 cause of action, arguing that the plaintiff failed to state any facts to support the allegation that they knew or should have known that their contracts were underfunded. The plaintiffs argued that they had not been able to obtain the contracts, the terms of which were known to the airline defendants. The trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend.
The plaintiff appealed, and the court of appeal affirmed, holding:
(Note: This is only the third reported decision construing § 2810.)
Parties to Qualifying CBA May Alter Labor Code Definition of "Overtime Hours"
Vranish v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 223 Cal. App. 4th 103 (2014)
The plaintiffs were Exxon employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) who alleged that Exxon owed them overtime compensation.
Under the CBA, Exxon paid the plaintiffs an overtime premium rate of one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked over forty hours in a workweek or over twelve hours in a workday. The CBA provided that overtime would not be paid for hours worked between eight and twelve in a workday, as normally required by Cal. Lab. Code § 510.
At issue was whether § 510's definition of "overtime" applies to employees covered by a valid CBA under Cal. Lab. Code § 514. More specifically, the question was whether the CBA at issue satisfied the fourth requirement of § 514, in that it provided "premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked."
The court held that § 510's definition of "overtime" did not apply, and the CBA provided premium wage rates for overtime hours worked, thus satisfying § 514.
Section 514 does not incorporate expressly the definition of "overtime" provided in § 510. "When there is a valid collective bargaining agreement, employees and employers are free to bargain over not only the rate of overtime pay, but also when overtime pay will begin." Parties subject to a qualifying CBA may consider all hours over eight in a day to be overtime, or they may agree to a different model, such as considering only hours over forty in a week.
Remand of Class Action to State Court Improper Under Class Action Fairness Act
Rea v. Michaels Stores Inc., 742 F.3d 1234 (9th Cir. 2014)
The plaintiffs filed a wage and hour class action in state court, and the defendant removed to the district court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). The district court remanded because the plaintiffs waived the right to any recovery of $5 million or more. After the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Standard Fire Ins. Co. v. Knowles, 133 S. Ct. 1345 (2013), which invalidated such waivers, the defendant again removed, and the district court again remanded, holding that the removal was untimely and that the defendant failed to demonstrate that the amount in controversy met CAFA's $5 million standard.
The defendant appealed, and the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding: