The California Supreme Court recently ruled that employers in California must pay their employees for even small amounts of time that an employee spends on tasks after the employee has clocked out.
In Troester v. Starbucks, the Plaintiff claimed that he spent a few minutes after clocking out on tasks such as locking the store and setting the alarm. Under a concept known as the de minimus doctrine, Federal courts often excuse the payment of wages for small amounts of time on the grounds that the bits of time are administratively difficult to record. The California Supreme Court rejected the Federal rule and concluded that California law requires employees to be paid for “all hours worked” – no matter how small. The Court recognized that advances in technology can aid employers and employees in accurately capturing all work time.
The top Court even made suggestions for employers to ensure that they pay their employees properly. The suggestions included restructuring work practices to prevent employees from working after clocking out, using technology to record all of the employees’ time, or having the employer estimate the additional time an employee may have worked and pay them for that time. The court also noted, however, that there may be “circumstances where compensable time is so minute or irregular that it is unreasonable to expect the time to be recorded.”
With this new law, all employers should review their pay practices to determine if they are properly paying their employees for “all hours worked” – including even small amounts of off-the-clock time.
Please contact De Castro & Morrow with any questions you may have. Let’s be proactive together.

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