Aleman v. Airtouch Cellular confirms what we already suspected regarding reporting time pay and split shift wages

While this case ostensibly addresses issues of first impression in California, like many such decisions it was only a matter of time.  In Aleman v. Airtouch Cellular (December 21, 2011), the Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division Two) examined claims for reporting time pay and split shift premiums.  The case was brought by former employees of AirTouch. The plaintiffs worked mostly as retail sales representatives or customer service representatives at AirTouch stores and kiosks.  Plaintiffs alleged that AirTouch did not properly pay its nonexempt employees for attending mandatory store meetings.

On the reporting time claim, the Court concluded that the plaintiffs were not entitled to receive "reporting time pay" for attending meetings at work, because all the meetings were scheduled and they worked at least half the scheduled time.  This issue stems from the argument that reporting time pay should be based on a two-hour minimum.  Thus, goes the argument, if you are called into a meeting one day for two hours, you should get two hours of pay, even if the meeting last 90 minutes.  This theory is dead.  If a meeting is scheduled, and the meeting lasts at least half the scheduled time, that is good enough.

On the split shift differential claim, the Court concluded, consistent with at least one treatise to examine the issue, that the split shift differential is intended only to protect the minimum wage law.  Thus, if your pay for the hours worked is enough to satisfy the split shift premium of one extra hour of pay at minimum wage, then no further pay need be supplied.

On the plus side, the Court explicitly held that an award of attorney's fees was improper, since both reporting time pay and split shift pay were governed by Labor Code section 1194, governing payment of minimum wages.  Since the one-way fee shifting statute controls the claims, defendant could not recover fees.  Phew.