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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Balestrieri v. Menlo Park Fire: Time Moving Gear to and from Temporary Assignments Is Not Compensable under the FLSA; Compensation for "Annual Leave Buyback" Need Not Be Included in Employees' Regular Rate of Pay for Overtime Purposes

Just a quick word on Balestrieri v. Menlo Park Fire Protection District, ___ F.3d ___ (9th Cir. 9/4/15), which includes two points of interest.

First, applying Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, ___U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 513 (12/9/14) (discussed here) the Court held that firefighters are not entitled to compensation for time spent moving their gear to and from temporary work assignments at fire stations other than their home stations. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), firefighters are "engaged in the prevention, control, and extinguishment of fires or response to emergency situations where life, property, or the environment is at risk." Time spent moving their gear from their permanent assignments to temporary assignments was not "integral and indispensable" to these principal activities and therefore was "preliminary" or "postliminary" under the FLSA, as amended by the Portal-to-Portal Act, and such "preliminary" and "postliminary" time is not compensable.

Second, the Court held that the District need not include amounts paid for "annual leave buyback" within its calculation of the employees' regular rates of pay for purposes of determining their overtime rates of pay. This is important because overtime compensation is 1 1/2 the regular rate of pay, so determining the regular rate of pay is critical to determining whether an employer is paying the proper overtime rate. I will not delve into the details of this part of the decision, but note it so that anyone interested can find the case.

The opinion is available here.

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