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California Unpaid Wages



California labor law requires hourly employees be paid for all time spent in work related duties, but when it comes to issues such as donning and doffing and logging into and out of computer systems, the rules are not always clear. California labor lawsuits have been filed against employers alleging employees are required to spend unpaid time putting on and taking off protective gear or specialized uniforms or otherwise carrying out activities that are required for their jobs. In some cases, the courts have found that employees should be compensated for this time.

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California Donning and Doffing Lawsuits

donningdoffingcasepage252Donning and doffing refers to procedures in which workers are required to put on and take off specialized gear—including protective gear and uniforms—before and after shifts and during break time. Often, employers do not pay their employees for this time, even though the time spent putting on and taking off such gear can add up to hours on a paycheck. If the employees work full-time, the minutes spent in donning and doffing might constitute overtime, meaning employees should be compensated at time-and-a-half.

In a 2012 ruling, the US Supreme Court found employees should be paid for certain activities if those activities are essential to the work being done. Employees benefit by wearing safety gear because they are protected from workplace hazards, but employers benefit by not having to pay for as much leave when employees are injured on the job.

In 2016, The US Supreme Court ruled against Tyson Foods and agreed with a lower court ruling that employees at the company's Iowa pork processing plant were owed more compensation for time spent putting on and taking off protective gear.

In California, a lawsuit was filed by employees against Kendall Jackson, alleging workers were not compensated for time spent putting on and taking off protective gear required for work on wineries.

California Call Center Lawsuits

Employees have also filed lawsuits against various call centers, arguing they are required to spend unpaid time logging into and out of various computer systems before and after shifts and during breaks. Some companies are accused of automatically clocking employees out at the scheduled end of their shift, even if employees are in the middle of a phone call and unable to terminate the call.

California Before and After Work Hours Lawsuits

Even in situations where employees are not required to wear safety gear or log into or out of computer systems before and after shifts, employees could be required to work unpaid time. Some theme parks, for example, may require employees to show up to shift in their work uniform and answer all questions from park guests even if they are technically not on the clock. Some companies, meanwhile, may expect employees to drop off or pick up equipment outside of their scheduled work hours and not compensate employees for time spent in such tasks.

Lawsuits have been filed against Staples and other companies alleging employees are forced to participate in security checks during breaks and after work but are not paid for the time spent waiting for the checks to be completed.

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