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Monday, July 11, 2011

Securitas v. Superior Court: Court of Appeal Affirms Judgment on Split Shift Issue

Securitas Security Services USA, Inc. v. Superior Court (Holland) (July 7, 2011) --- Cal.App.4th ----, 2011 WL 2641699, presents a discrete split shift issue. The plaintiffs are security guards. They allege failure to pay split shift pay, among other violations. The defendant moved for summary adjudication on the split shift cause of action:
Securitas moved for summary adjudication of the second count only, arguing that plaintiffs are not entitled to split-shift pay because they do not work “split shifts” as defined in Wage Order No. 4. Securitas argued that an uninterrupted work shift that spans midnight and falls in two calendar days and two workdays is not a split shift, and that a split shift does not occur if an employee ends such an overnight shift in the morning and begins another overnight shift late in the evening of the same workday. Plaintiffs argued in opposition that a split shift occurs whenever an employee works two nonconsecutive periods in the same workday, such as when a shift begins on one workday and ends on another and the employee then returns to work several hours later on the second workday. Plaintiffs also argued that Securitas had failed to pay split-shift pay not only where the employee worked shifts spanning midnight on consecutive days, but also where the employee worked nonconsecutive periods in the same workday without working through midnight.
Slip op. at 1. The trial court (Los Angeles Superior, Judge Jones) denied the motion, holding that a split shift occurs "whenever an employee works two nonconsecutive periods of time in the same workday." Slip op. at 2. Securitas filed a writ petition. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court on the split shift issue:
Wage Order No. 4 defines a “split shift” as “a work schedule” that “is interrupted by non-paid non-working periods established by the employer, other than bona fide rest or meal breaks.” (Cal.Code Regs., tit. 8, § 11040, subd. 2(Q).) The term “work schedule” is not defined in either the wage order or the Labor Code. In the context of a provision establishing minimum wages to compensate employees who are required to return to work after an interruption in their “work schedule,” we believe that a “work schedule” simply means an employee's designated working hours or periods of work. In our view, this is so irrespective of the “workday” established by the employer. A “split shift” occurs only when an employee's designated working hours are interrupted by one or more unpaid, nonworking periods established by the employer that are not bona fide rest or meal periods. The fact that a single continuous shift happens to begin during one “workday” and end in another does not result in a “split shift.” Thus, employees working uninterrupted overnight shifts on consecutive days do not work a split shift and are not entitled to split-shift pay under the wage order.
Slip op. at 4. Regardless, the Court found that summary adjudication was not appropriate and denied the writ:
Plaintiffs' second count for failure to pay split-shift premiums ... is not limited to purported split shifts created by consecutive overnight shifts, but also encompasses other instances in which they allegedly worked split shifts. Securitas made no effort to show that plaintiffs have not worked split shifts in other circumstances that might fall within the wage order definition for which they may be entitled to split-shift pay. We therefore conclude that Securitas failed to sustain its burden as the party moving for summary adjudication to show that plaintiffs cannot establish an element of their cause of action and are not entitled to summary adjudication.
Slip op. at 5.

The opinion is available here.

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