In January 2015, the California Supreme Court handed down a decision concerning compensation for security guards for on-call hours when they are obliged to be on-site. Attorney Cathe Caraway-Howard was instrumental in moving the case forward through several years of litigation. The case, Mendiola v. CPS Security Solutions, Inc., marks an important turning point for employees who are required to be on their work site for extended hours beyond an active shift.
Employer Control of Employee Movements
The crucial element that provoked the case in the first place was that CPS Security Solutions required security guards to stay in on-site trailers during their on-call hours, restricting their movements during that time. The court’s decision found the degree of control over the employees during the on-call hours was such that it required compensation for those hours, beyond the original plan that CPS had created. In the original employment plan, the security guards would be compensated for on-call hours only if they responded to incidents that took three hours or more.
Responses to the Decision
Once the decision was given, many reviews of it focused on the changes it would make for employers who required workers to spend additional hours on-site while on call.
The Los Angeles Times report of the case decision dwells on the effect of the decision on employers, after mentioning the benefits it will mean to the on-call employees.
The Employment Law E-Buzz site gives a clear description of the circumstances that led to the case. In their summation, the site writers urge employers to review their on-call practices, taking into consideration the degree of control they exercise over their employees in those hours as well as their compensation structure.
The website for the National Law Review also provides a thorough exposition of the history of the case. They also mention the laws and regulation that apply to the case, for those who might not be familiar with the details of law.
On the Orrick Employment Law and Litigation Blog gives readers a full description of the case and findings. Their final evaluation of the decision is worth quoting:
The Mendiola decision should serve as a reminder to employers that California’s labor laws may not be interpreted consistent with federal analogues or the opinion of state enforcement agencies, and that standards applicable to one industry or vocation may not govern another. Cautious employers should seek the advice of counsel in understanding the nuances of, and navigating through, California’s complicated compensation landscape.
Because many of the participants in the class action suit are Hispanic, Telemundo also gave some coverage to the decision.