Employees must be paid for time worked. However, this rule gets tricky for certain classes of employees who work long shifts. For example, security guards are commonly required to stay during long shifts that can stretch for 16 or even 24 hours. Some companies allow security guards to sleep, as long as they remain on call. A recent case before the California Court of Appeals explains how this can work in the case of Mendiola v. CPS Security Solutions, Inc.
In Mendiola the employees provided security guard services for CPS Security. The employees were assigned to construction sites where they operated out of residential trailers for 16 hour regular shifts and 8 hour on call shifts during the night. During the night shifts CPS only provided compensation for time spent conducting investigations, meaning that any time they spent not conducting investigations, but being on call, was uncompensated.
The employees filed a class action lawsuit to recover wages for their time spent being on call. The trial court granted the employee’s requests. The employer appealed. The California Court of Appeals said that the guards performed an important function for the employer and its clients by deterring theft and vandalism. Further, the guard’s ability to engage in their private wishes was “substantially restricted” because they did not enjoy the typical freedom of an off-duty worker.
Although federal wage and hour regulations do not require that employees who reside on work grounds be compensated for the time they are on the premises, the court declined to adopt that provision into California law.
The take home point is that just because an employee is not technically on the job by doing work for an employer, if they are on call and remain at the workplace they should be compensated. However, employers in these situations generally require employees to exclude a total number of 8 hours for sleep time that may take place during the job.
If your employer has not paid you the full amount you have earned you may be able to recover your unpaid wages with a lawsuit. To learn more about your legal options contact the experienced California wage and hour attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael S. Cunningham, LLP. Call (951) 213-4786 today for a free consultation. Keep in mind that timely action can make a big difference in a case.