No Lullaby For Employers: California Supreme Court Finds Sleep Periods Considered 'Hours Worked'

In Mendiola v. CPS Security Solutions, Inc., S212704 (Jan. 8 2015), California's Supreme Court reaffirmed the rule that "hours worked" under California law includes all hours an employee is under the employer's control, even when the employee is not actively engaged in carrying out his or her job duties. Significantly, the court held that a sleep period during the time an employee is "on call" cannot be excluded from "hours worked" by agreement between the employer and employee. The court disapproved Seymore v. Metson Marine, Inc. 194 Cal.App.4th 361 (2011), which held an employer and employee could agree to exclude such "on call" sleep periods from "hours worked." It also limited to the facts of the case the holding in Monzon v. Schaefer Ambulance Service, Inc. 224 Cal.App.3d 16 (1990) that an eight hour sleep period could be excluded by agreement from hours worked in a 24 hour shift for ambulance drivers and attendants.

The Mendiola court held California's wage and hour laws do not "implicitly incorporate[]" the federal Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA) regulations. Rather, the court reaffirmed the rule previously stated in Morillion v. Royal Packing Co. 22 Cal.4th 575 (2000) that California's "courts should not incorporate a federal standard concerning what time is compensable '[a]bsent convincing evidence of the [Industrial Welfare Commission's ("IWC")] intent'" to do so.

The Facts of the Case

The defendant in Mendiola provided security guards to construction sites. The guards worked 16 hour shifts during weekdays, eight hours on patrol and eight hours "on call;" and 24 hour shifts on weekends, 16 hours on patrol and eight hours "on call." While guards could generally use their "on-call" time as they saw fit, they were not allowed to leave their worksite without the defendant's approval. To obtain approval, the guard had to tell the defendant where he or she would be, how long they would be off site, request a relief guard to cover the time they were gone, and wait for the relief guard to arrive. If no relief guard was available, the employee was not allowed to leave the site, even if the reason for their absence was for a personal emergency. When a relief guard was available, the departing guard had to be accessible by pager or radio phone and had to stay close enough to the site to return within 30 minutes if called to do so. While on site, guards were required to respond immediately to any alarm or other circumstance requiring an...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT