A recent decision of the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals highlights the possibility of an employer owing wages to employees for required after-work administrative activities, such as updating a company computer database from home with daily sales or service call data, if to more than a “de minimis” extent.  The court’s wage/hour decision is fact-specific as usual, involving field technicians employed by Lojack, Inc. to install alarms in customer cars in the field.  For example, the field techs were required to respond to before-shift Company requests to schedule service calls for their regular workday, and to plug in a Company hand-held device to a home modem after work so the device could upload daily activity records to a Company database.  Resolving a dispute under the federal Employer Commuter Flexibility Act, the court noted that the statute does not require employee compensation for off-hours “activities which are preliminary to or postliminary to said principal activity or activities” of the regular job, thus creating a “de minimis” exception to normal requirements for payment of wages and overtime.  If it is “only a few seconds or minutes of work beyond the scheduled working hours, such trifles may be disregarded . . . it is only when an employee is required to give up a substantial measure of his [sic] time and effort that compensable working time is involved.” While declining to set a bright line rule, the court in this case finds that activities taking a minute or two per day before work are de minimis and not compensable.  However, noting other cases in which 7 or 8 minutes per day were found to require compensation, the court found that the post-shift uploading and other activities can take as much as 15 minutes, and were required to be performed virtually every day.  Thus the court concluded that this post-shift wage claim was at least solid enough to go to trial.  (Rutti v. Lojack Corp., et al. 9th Circuit No. 07-56599, March 2, 2010)

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