The law requires that employees be paid for all time they perform work for an employer. When employees are required to sign on to a work computer before traveling to work to undertake administrative tasks and then travel from home to their first work location, employees may have claims for unpaid wages and overtime pay both for the administrative and travel time.
This issue was recently addressed in Mott v. Driveline Retail Merchandising, Inc. 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69520 (Brody, J.)(E. D. Pa. May 21, 2014), where the Plaintiff employees asserted that their employer, Driveline, enforces a company-wide policy of not paying merchandisers for the time spent driving between their home and their first store of the day, which is alleged to violate the “continuous workday” rule under which any travel time that occurs after the beginning of an employee’s first principal activity and before the end of an employee’s last principal activity must be included in hours worked. In Mott, the Plaintiffs allege that the administrative tasks performed at home each morning constitutes a principal activity, thus their subsequent drive time between home and their first store call should be compensable. The plaintiffs filed a collective class action alleging failure to pay wages for required work in violation of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The court granted conditional certification of a class comprised of all persons who are or were employed as merchandisers during a three-year period during which Driveline employed approximately 27,095 merchandisers who provide in-store marketing and retail services to consumer products companies and national retailers.
In Mott, the named employees worked as hourly rate merchandisers in 14 states earning $8 to $11 per hour. The employees began their workday at home by logging on to an intranet computer system, responded to email messages, downloaded and printed work orders, reviewed instructions, mapped routes to store locations, printed work authorization letters and work completion forms and began each day by loading their personal vehicles with displays and other marketing materials to transport to retail locations. After completing these administrative tasks, the employees drove to their first retail store of the day. When the employees completed their last assigned store call of the day, the employees were required to again log on to Driveline’s intranet, upload signed work orders associated with in-store work; complete questionnaires, upload digital photographs and complete inventory reports.
In Mott, the employees allege that the employer violated the wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA by not paying them for hours they were required to work “off the clock” – drive time between home and their first assigned retail location; and the time spent on administrative work at home in the mornings and evenings as well as the drive time between store locations during the work day. To be included in a FLSA collective action, plaintiff employees must be “similarly situated” and give written consent. At the first step, the named plaintiff must make a “modest factual showing” that the employees identified in the complaint are “similarly situated” by producing some evidence of a factual nexus between the manner in which the employer’s alleged policy affected the employee and the manner in which it affected other employees. Later on at a second stage, with the benefit of discovery, the court must make a conclusive determination that every plaintiff who has opted in to the collective class action is in fact similarly situated to the named plaintiff.
The Court found that the Plaintiffs met the required condition class burden with evidence of Driveline’s company-wide policy of not paying merchandisers for the time they spend driving between their home and their first store call of the day which is alleged to violate the “continuous workday” rule where any travel time that occurs after the beginning of an employee’s first principal activity and before the end of an employee’s last principal activity must be included in hours worked as the administrative tasks performed at home each morning could constitute a principal activity, and thus their subsequent drive time between home and their first store call would be compensable. The Court also found that the plaintiffs presented overwhelming deposition testimony that both the named Plaintiffs and proposed class members were victims of a uniform Driveline payroll and compensation system under which merchandisers working excess time on administrative tasks and driving were unable to enter that time into Driveline’s payroll system and were never paid for it. Thus, the Court reasoned that Plaintiffs more than met their burden that they are similarly situated to other proposed class members as the Plaintiffs and the proposed class are all merchandisers with similar job descriptions subject to the same policies.
Abramson Employment Law represents employees who have FLSA claims for unpaid wages and overtime pay. For more information see http://www.job-discrimination.com/lawyer-attorney-1126494.html