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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ninth Circuit Issues Commuting Time Decision

In Rutti v. Lojack Corporation, Inc. ___ F. 3d ___ (9th Cir. (Cal.) March 2, 2010), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided a number of federal and state law issues related to commuting time.

Under the Employee Commuter Flexibility Act, use of a company vehicle to commute--even if a condition of employment--is not compensable, and district court did not err in dismissing class action by plaintiff seeking compensation for time technicians were employed by company to install alarms in customers’ cars and for time spent on preliminary and postliminary activities. District court similarly did not err in holding that conditions limiting employee’s use of company vehicle during times in question did not amount to additional legally cognizable work. Employee’s off-the-clock activities prior to leaving home--receiving, mapping, and prioritizing jobs and routes for assignment--were related to his commute and presumptively noncompensable. To the extent activities were distinct from commute and related to employee’s principal activities, district court did not err in granting summary judgment denying compensation absent any evidence activities took more than a de minimis amount of time to complete. Where record indicated employee’s work-related activities after returning home were an integral part of his principal activities, and the amount of time required to complete activities was in dispute, district court erred in granting employer summary judgment. Employee was not entitled to compensation for commute time under continuous workday doctrine--even if such doctrine were adopted--where preliminary activities were not principal activities or were de minimis, and where employee could use intervening time between completing a job and conducting postliminary activities for his own purposes.

On the other hand, the district court erred in granting summary judgment for employer on plaintiff’s California law claim for compensation for commuting because the "level of the employer’s control over its employees" is determinative, and there was no dispute that employee was under employer’s control while driving company vehicle to first job of the day and on his way home at the end of the day.


  1. It was hard for me to deal with the lawsuit.
    It was sad back in August when case started to go wrong for me. But now it's a great day for me.

    "Mike Rutti"

  2. I am in the same situation in Louisiana , I disagree with my employer claiming I can not be compensated for the first 60 miles or last 60 miles . Yet they charge the customer travel time on the first commute from my house to the job site which I am not compensated for. Do I have reason to be upset? LOL


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