It is a well-established principle of California labor law that “On-call or standby time at the work site is considered hours worked for which the employee must be compensated even if the employee does nothing but wait for something to happen. ‘[A]n employer, if he chooses, may hire a man to do nothing or to do nothing but wait for something to happen.’ (quoting the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Armour & Co. v. Wantock (1944).
Every employee who works more than five hours must also be allowed an unpaid break of at least 30 minutes for meal time. If the employee is not relieved of all work duties during that time, including an obligation to remain on-call, California labor law requires that the time be paid.
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How much limitation is significant? This is the developing edge of the law that is being explored in the growing number of on-call wage lawsuits in California courts. If the Savinovich lawsuit is certified as a class-action, that issue is certain to be front and center. Other lawsuits involving roughly similar facts are also pending against Nordstrom and its subsidiary Trunk Club, Amazon and Dolgen California, LLC, which operates as a subsidiary of Dollar General Corporation.