Donald Troester was a shift supervisor for a Los Angeles Starbucks.
Starbucks’ software required Troester to clock out of every closing shift before initiating “close store procedure.” After completing the procedure, Troester was required to activate the store alarm, exit the store and lock the door. Troester wasn’t compensated for the 4 to 10 extra minutes per shift he spent performing these duties.
Troester filed a class-action lawsuit under California’s state wage and hour statute. Starbucks filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the time Troester claimed was minimal and trivial and not compensable. The district court agreed with Starbucks but on appeal the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit certified the following question for the California Supreme Court to answer: whether small minute windows of uncompensated time give rise to a claim.
The high court held that California’s wage and hour statute provided more protection than the federal FLSA and did not incorporate the FLSA’s de minimis doctrine, whereby small working windows of minutes or seconds were trivial time and not compensable.
The court held that even mere minutes of work beyond the scheduled hours are a burden that should not be the employee’s to bear and are recoverable. Troester v. Starbucks Corp., 421 P.3d 1114 (Cal. 2018)
IMPACT: Employers should re-evaluate their time-keeping policies and procedures in order to make sure that an employee is compensated when performing job duties.
Rachel L. Schaller and Daniel Saeedi are attorneys at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP. Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.