California is one of the country’s top states in terms of employee protection. The state has, on occasion, passed legislation meant to protect workers from harmful practices that many industries have adopted as standard. One of the most glaring issues that California has addressed in recent years is the problem of “off-the-clock” work.
What does off-the-clock work look like?
In 2018, Starbucks faced legal action for failing to pay a worker for off-the-clock work. In Troester v. Starbucks, a shift supervisor claimed that he was regularly being asked to work an extra 5-10 minutes after he clocked out in order to close the store. This included sending sales data for the day, locking the door and taking care of general custodial tasks.
The employee claimed that store closing procedure required him to clock out first, making everything he did to close the store an unpaid action. California courts eventually agreed with the employee, saying that this practice was unfair.
While this example may seem obvious in retrospect, most off-the-clock work seems commonplace or even expected in many occupations. Common examples include:
- Supervising a service area, like a front desk, during a required lunch or rest break
- Pre- or post-shift staff meetings
- Responding to “urgent” emails from home or during a commute
Employees should also be wary if their employer asks them to fix mistakes after work because “it should have been done right the first time.” Whether you are completing a work task for the first time or the fifth time, California believes your employer should compensate you for your time.
What to do if you have been working off the clock
Discuss your situation with a California wage and hour claims attorney. An experienced professional can help you determine the severity of the violation and help you pursue compensation for your work.
In some cases, off-the-clock work may have violated California’s overtime laws, especially if you were asked to work beyond eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. However, there are several exemptions and conditions to this law, so speaking with an employment law attorney is a necessity.