on-call employeesThe California Supreme Court has ruled in favor of security guards who filed a class-action suit seeking unpaid overtime wages for on-call hours. We suspect the case could have broad implications for on-call workers in general.

The guards in the case, Mendiola v. CPS Security Solutions, Inc., worked 16-hour shifts on weekdays and 24-hour shifts on weekends. The Court of Appeals had determined that the weekday on-call hours were compensable, but that the on-call hours on the weekend were not. The appellate court relied on a federal regulation that permits employers to enter into agreements with employees to deduct sleep time from compensable hours worked when employees are required to be on duty for 24 hours. But the Supreme Court held that California law is more protective of employees than federal law, and that employees must be compensated when subject to the employer’s control.

CPS Security Solutions employed the guards to provide security at construction sites. The guards lived on-site in residential trailers, and their activities were restricted during their on-call hours. They could not have children, pets or alcohol on the premises, adult visitors had to be authorized by the CPS client, and if a guard wanted to leave the job site, he had to notify dispatch and wait for a reliever to arrive before he could leave. If no relief was available, guards could not leave the work site. Guards who did leave had to remain within a 30-minute radius of the job site.

The Court concluded that the restrictions placed on the security guards while in the trailers on the work site made all the time they spent there compensable.

Are you an employer with on-call employees or employees who work 24-hour shifts? If you have questions about your pay practices in light of this high court ruling, we invite you to contact Johnson Employment Law for guidance. 949-238-8044.