Ninth Circuit – Time Booting Up Computer is Compensable

Customer,Service,Executive,Working,At,OfficeUnder the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), an employer must pay non-exempt employees for all time in a workday, which means the period between the time employees commence their first “principal activity” each day and when they complete all principal activities. On October 24, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (“the Ninth Circuit”) held that this includes the time it takes to boot up a computer and all activities that follow once it is booted up, including clocking in, until the computer is turned off.

The decision was very fact-specific but provides insight as to how the Ninth Circuit and other courts may evaluate similar time spent by other employees for whom computer-use is an integral and indispensable part of the work they were employed to perform.

Facts and Background of the Case

In the case, Cadena v. Customer Connexx LLC, employees brought a collective action against their employer Customer Connexx LLC (“Connexx”) for failure to pay them for all time worked, specifically the time spent booting up and turning off their computers. The employees worked as call center agents and their primary responsibilities were to provide customer service and scheduling support for customers of an appliance recycling business over the phone. In this case, however, the call center agents operate a phone program called “Five9” through their computers rather than an actual phone and this is how they make all their calls.

Importantly, before beginning their daily work tasks, employees had to clock in using a computer-based timekeeping program, which meant awakening or turning on their computers, logging in, and opening up the time keeping system. Employees do not have assigned computers, so they must take this first step from whatever state in which the computer has been left from its prior use. Once the computer has booted up, employees load various programs and call scripts, and confirm their phones are connected. At the end of the shift, they close out programs in use, clock out, then log off or shut down their computers. Per the employees, booting up the computer could take anywhere from a minute to twenty minutes and shutting down the computer can take between a minute to 15 minutes.

The lawsuit was filed with the United States District Court for the District of Nevada (“District Court”) and it included violations of the FLSA and Nevada law. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of Connexx, finding that Continue reading

Its Back to the Drawing Board on Browning-Ferris…Again

As the definition of a joint employer shifts with each change in Administration, so too does the holding of Browning-Ferris – a case that has been fluctuating between the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) and the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (“D.C. Circuit Court”) for nearly ten years.

Court,Of,Law,And,Justice,Trial,Session:,Imparcial,Honorable,JudgeIn 2013, the Sanitary Truck Drivers and Helpers Local 350, International Brotherhood of Teamsters (the “Union”) kicked off this almost decade-long controversy by petitioning the NLRB for representation of workers that it asserted were joint employees of Leadpoint Business Services and Browning-Ferris Industries of California, Inc. (“BFI”). Since then, the NLRB and the DC Circuit Court have issued numerous and, more often than not, contradictory rulings, culminating with this most recent decision from the D.C. Circuit Court.  Here, the Court challenged the Trump Administration’s NLRB’s reasoning that BFI was not a joint employer using what the NLRB termed “a clear rule of law requiring proof of direct and immediate control” that had been in place “for at least 30 years.” Essentially, the D.C. Circuit Court vacated the NLRB’s ruling because “the [NLRB] made multiple overlapping errors” in its analysis, which the Court asserted failed to support the NLRB’s ultimate decision.

Timeline of the Case

To better understand the D.C. Circuit Court’s most recent decision, below is a timeline of the prior decisions and related action from the NLRB related to the joint employer standard: Continue reading