On January 8, 2015, the California Supreme Court held that security guards who work 24-hour shifts must be paid for all 24 hours, even if 8 of those hours are spent sleeping. In the decision, Mendiola v. CPS Security Solutions, Inc., the Court wrote that even when security guards are simply on-call, the entire 24-hour shift is “compensable hours worked.”
The lawsuit was brought by security guards employed by CPS Security Solutions. The guards provided services at various construction sites, where they basically lived on site in CPS-provided residential trailers. On weekdays, the security guards were scheduled for 16 hour shifts, half of which was an active patrol shift and the other half was “on-call” time. On weekends, the security guards were scheduled for 24 hour shifts, 16 hours of which was active patrol and 8 hours of which was on-call time. The security guards were not compensated for on-call hours unless they actually worked during those hours. If security guards did not get at least 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep time during on-call hours, they would be paid for the entire 8-hour on-call shift.
Some of the security guards filed a class action against CPS, alleging CPS violated California law by not paying them for all of their on-call hours. The trial court certified a class action and ruled that the class was entitled to pay for all weekday and weekend on-call hours. When CPS appealed the trial court’s decision to the California Court of Appeal, the Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court’s holding about weekday on-call hours, but held that the guards did not need to be paid for on-call hours on the weekends. Finally, the California Supreme Court wrote that CPS’ policy of not compensating security guards for on-call time on the weekends was unlawful.
The California Supreme Court held that because the trailer guards are “substantially restricted” in their use of the on-call time for personal pursuits, they are under sufficient employer control to make it necessary for the employer to pay for all 24 hours.
Employers with on call employees or employees working 24-hour shifts should consider the holding of this case and make sure pay practices comply with this decision.