California Supreme Court finds Security Guards are entitled to pay for all on-call hours spent at their worksites under their employer’s control

In Mendiola v. CPS Sec. Solutions, Inc., Case No. S212704 (Cal. Jan. 8, 2015) the Supreme Court recently said that California law requires on-call security guards to be paid for all of the time they are required to spend at the worksite, even if they are able to engage in personal activities, including sleeping.

Mendiola is a class action brought against CPS Security Solutions who employed security guards at construction worksites.  Security guards were required to live in residential trailers at the worksite and had shifts that included being on-call.  When on-call, guards could not leave the property during their shift without the employer’s permission and had to answer security calls.  When not answering calls, they could spend their on-call time in their trailer, watching tv, using the internet or sleeping.  However, the employer restricted pets, guests and alcohol use on the property.  CPS paid the on-call guards for the time they spent answering security calls, but not for the entire shift.  The Supreme Court found the employer was required to pay for all of the time the guards spent on-call and while subject to the employer’s rules, even if they were in their trailers or sleeping.

The Supreme Court explained their decision was based on California state law which is more protective of workers than federal law.  Under federal law, in some circumstances, employees who live at the worksite do not have to be paid for time spent for leisure.  Additionally, federal law may also allow workers on 24 hour shifts to go unpaid for time they spend asleep.  The Supreme Court found that state law does not allow for those exceptions and the employer’s compliance with federal law was not sufficient in California.

By Nancy Hanna | January 16, 2015

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