Today, in its decision in Troester v. Starbucks, the California Supreme Court gave another big win to employees. It reaffirmed that California law is significantly more protective of employees than federal law.
The Court held that – contrary to federal law, which makes allowance for de minimis exceptions to its wage and hour laws – for the couple of minutes the Starbucks managers spent (after clocking out) logging out, sending data to headquarters, locking up, and walking employees to their cars, there is no de minimis exception to the California law requirement that employees must be compensated for “all hours worked.” This was a reminder that the employment laws in California can stand alone and above the minimums provided by federal law, and that California laws should be interpreted in light of changes to our society that make it easier for employers to take advantage of workers.
This is the first of three significant minimum wage cases before the Court. In Stoetzl et al. v. California et al., in which MAJ represents a large class of correctional peace officers, we argue that the uncompensated time officers spend under the control of their employer should be analyzed under California law and not federal law. And in Frlekin et al. v. Apple, the Court will determine whether Apple must pay its employees for time spent waiting to be searched before leaving their places of employment.
Troester is an important win, coming at a time when the federal government is looking to make unfavorable changes to the FLSA, the California Supreme Court buttressed the worker protections in California that exceed the minimal benefits under federal law.
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