Search This Blog

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Mendiola v. CPS: Supreme Court Addresses Compensable Time for Resident Security Guards

In Mendiola v. CPS (2015) 60 Cal.4th 833, a security guard contracted with his employer to reside at a work site to provide 24 hour security services. The employer paid him hourly wages for eight on duty hours per day, paid him for actual time spent investigating disturbances for eight hours of on call time per day, and did not pay him for eight hours of sleep time per day. The plaintiff filed a class action.

The trial court certified the class and granted summary judgment for the guards, finding that their on call time was compensable "hours worked." The Court of Appeal affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Supreme Court granted review, holding that both the guards' on call time and sleep time constituted compensable "hours worked."

First, the Court looked to a multi-factor test to determine whether the guards remained subject to the employer's control during on call time:

The guards here were required to "reside" in their trailers as a condition of employment and spend on-call hours in their trailers or elsewhere at the worksite. They were obliged to respond, immediately and in uniform, if they were contacted by a dispatcher or became aware of suspicious activity. Guards could not easily trade on-call responsibilities. They could only request relief from a dispatcher and wait to see if a reliever was available. If no relief could be secured, as happened on occasion, guards could not leave the worksite. CPS exerted control in a variety of other ways. Even if relieved, guards had to report where they were going, were subject to recall, and could be no more than 30 minutes away from the site. Restrictions were placed on nonemployee visitors, pets, and alcohol use... Additionally, the Court of Appeal correctly determined that the guards' on-call time was spent primarily for the benefit of CPS.
Citing its decision in Morillion v. Royal Packing Co. (2010) 22 Cal.4th 575, the Court rejected the argument that on call time was not compensable because the guards could engage in personal activities during that time. The Court also declined to incorporate a federal regulation, 29 CFR 785.23, into Wage Order 4. The Court noted that federal law sets the floor for employee wage and hour protection, but California is free to adopt broader protections, and Wage Order 4 itself does not indicate an intent to incorporate this regulation.

The Court then held that California law does not permit employers to exclude sleep time from hours worked, except in limited circumstances set forth in the Wage Orders. In so doing, the Court limited to its facts Monzon v. Schaefer Ambulance Service, Inc. (1990) 224 Cal.App.3d 16, a case involving ambulance drivers working 24-hour shifts and disapproved Seymore v. Metson Marine, Inc. (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 361, a case involving off shore oil rig employees. The Court disregarded what it called "vacillating and contradictory" positions taken on the issue by the DLSE.

The opinion is available here

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.