The Californian Supreme Court has ruled against Starbucks in a landmark case for not compensating a supervisor for “off the clock” closing tasks. The six-year long legal battle between the coffee giant and former shift supervisor Doug Troester could set a legal precedent for Californian employment law.
“Over the 17-month period of his employment, Troester’s unpaid time totalled approximately 12 hours and 50 minutes,” according to the court’s ruling, adding that Starbucks required Troester to “clock off” before he performed necessary closing tasks. The unpaid time included transmitting sales and inventory data to corporate headquarters, activating the alarm and walking co-workers to their cars in accordance with Starbucks’ policy.
Californian law doesn’t allow workers to claim compensation for trivial work, such as employees checking schedules for changes. “It does not, however, permit an employer to require an employee to regularly work for nontrivial periods of time without providing compensation,” the high court stated.
Dana Kravetz, an employment lawyer at Michelman & Robinson, said the decision could cause problems for Californian employers.
“Employers would be wise to take a closer look at any off-the-clock tasks that non-exempt employees are expected to perform – no matter how fleeting – and determine if the time dedicated to those tasks can be captured or otherwise recorded,” he said.
Starbucks has said that it plans to appeal.
“We are disappointed with the court’s decision. We will await further disposition of the case before the 9th circuit as the appeal process continues,” the company told Nation’s Restaurant News in a statement.