The July 26, 2018 filing by the H & M Plaintiffs came just hours after the Supreme Court’s decision in Troester. This is one of the first signs that the decision will be used to enforce the rights of workers who have been denied de minimis pay in the state of California.
The H & M Lawsuit
The H & M Plaintiffs moved for class certification back in May of 2018. They sought certification for all current and former non-exempt H & M retail employees who worked for the company between December 2011 and 2018. They claimed that under California law, employees must be paid for all hours spent under control of the employer, among other things. Specifically, they argued that H & M had a mandatory, off-the-clock security check policy that violated workers rights by forcing them to perform mandatory job related tasks off the clock.
In their motion for class certification, the H & M Plaintiffs argued that the de minimis defense was not an impediment to class certification. They noted that the California Supreme Court had certified the question of whether the de minimis doctrine applied to California Labor Code claims. Then, hours after Troester was decided, Plaintiffs filed notice of new authority citing the Troester decision. Because Troester and H & M both alleged violations of the California Labor Code, it follows that the Troester decision could bolster the Plaintiff’s chances of prevailing on some of their claims in the H & M lawsuit. It also opens the doors for additional California unpaid wages lawsuits to be filed, that might not have had traction before Troester was decided.
California Donning and Doffing Lawsuit
“Donning and doffing” refers to the time employees spend donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) mandatory clothing and accessories or safety gear before and after their shifts, and on meal and rest breaks. It is unclear under current State laws whether donning and doffing is an activity that necessarily must be paid employment time. It is a fact specific inquiry that courts must perform in making such a determination.
Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers frequently raise the de minimis defense to donning and doffing claims. Now, after Troester, employers will no longer have this defense in their arsenal for claims filed under the state Labor Code.