On October 24, 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in Cadena v. Customer Conex LLC (“Cadena”), concerning whether the time employees spend booting up and shutting down their computers is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).
Background to Cadena
In Cadena, employees worked in a call center in Las Vegas where they had to boot up their computers to begin their shifts since their phones were only accessible through the computer. The employees estimated that it would take six to twelve minutes to turn on their computers, log into their phones, and clock in on the company’s timekeeping system.
Multiple employees stepped forward to attest to the claim that the time used to boot up computers should be compensable. They were unsuccessful at first – the district court ruled that booting up and shutting down computers was not an integral part of the position the employees were hired for.
The time fell under the exception in the Portal-to-Portal Act, which deems that any preliminary or postliminary activities employees spend time on are not required to be compensable. The U.S. Supreme Court analyzed the exception in the past and ruled that the preparation of equipment necessary to perform duties is a compensable action.
Ruling in Cadena
After an appeal to the Ninth Circuit, it was ruled that the employees’ phones could not be performed without booting up their computers, making the action integral to the company, and thus being compensable under the FLSA. The court limited its holding to turning on the computer at the beginning of the shift, explaining that shutting down the computer was not integral to making calls, and therefore not compensable.
How does the Ruling in Cadena Affect Employers?
While Cadena arose out of a call center in Las Vegas, Nevada, employers in all states should carefully examine any pre-shift and post-shift duties that may be deemed as “integral” to an employee’s position. For example, if booting up the computer is indispensable to perform the employee’s duties, it may be compensable under the FLSA.
The Cadena decision also raises the question of whether this time will be compensable under California law. While California law does not have its own version of the Portal-to-Portal Act, California courts have repeatedly held that an employer must compensate employees for all time worked.
For more information about the Cadena decision, compensable time, and whether your employees’ duties need to be compensated under the FLSA or otherwise, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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