Ninth Circuit: FLSA Work Time May Include Time to Boot Up and Turn Off Computer
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October 24, 2022
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In Cadena v. Customer Connexx LLC, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stated that the time an employee spends booting up a computer is compensable work time for call center employees because the activity is integral and indispensable to their work. The call center employees’ primary responsibilities are to provide customer service and scheduling tasks using the employer-provided computers. Before they can perform these services, they must turn on the computer and log in; they are unable to perform their jobs without the computers.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), activities performed before or after an employee’s regular work shift are compensable if they are an integral and indispensable part of the principal activities for which the employee is employed. The Ninth Circuit stated that employees’ duties could not be performed without turning on and booting up their work computers, and having a functioning computer was necessary before they could perform their job duties. Conversely, logging out of all programs at the end of their shift and shutting down the computer may not be integral to the employees performing their duties; this issue was sent back down to the lower court for further review.
Notably, the court distinguished the need to access the company’s timekeeping system as having no impact on the “integral and indispensable” analysis, rather focusing on the employees’ principal activities. That being said, the Ninth Circuit remanded the case back to the district court to determine whether the time spent booting up and shutting down computers was de minimis under the FLSA and not required to be compensated. The court also specifically limited its analysis to the facts of this case.
While this case continues to expand employers’ need to evaluate employee compensable time, keep in mind that that not all states, like California, acknowledge use of de minimis time as a valid reason to fail to pay employees for all hours worked.
- Evaluate employee job duties for integral and indispensable time spent consistent with this ruling.
- Implement pay processes to account for payment of compensable time.
- Have appropriate personnel trained on pay requirements.
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