The California Supreme Court just posted Troester v. Starbucks (July 26, 2018), and it is a bomb blast. There is no federal de minimis defense to California wage and hour laws, and, on the facts of this case at least, no state de minimis defense either:
Upon a request by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.548), we agreed to answer the following question: Does the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s de minimis doctrine, as stated in Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co. (1946) 328 U.S. 680, 692, and Lindow v. United States (9th Cir. 1984) 738 F.2d 1057, 1063, apply to claims for unpaid wages under California Labor Code sections 510, 1194, and 1197?
The de minimis doctrine is an application of the maxim de minimis non curat lex, which means “[t]he law does not concern itself with trifles.” (Black’s Law Dict. (10th ed. 2014) p. 524.) Federal courts have applied the doctrine in some circumstances to excuse the payment of wages for small amounts of otherwise compensable time upon a showing that the bits of time are administratively difficult to record.
We approach the question presented in two parts: First, have California’s wage and hour statutes or regulations adopted the de minimis doctrine found in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)? We conclude they have not. There is no indication in the text or history of the relevant statutes and Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) wage orders of such adoption.
Second, does the de minimis principle, which has operated in California in various contexts, apply to wage and hour claims? In other words, although California has not adopted the federal de minimis doctrine, does some version of the doctrine nonetheless apply to wage and hour claims as a matter of state law? We hold that the relevant wage order and statutes do not permit application of the de minimis rule on the facts given to us by the Ninth Circuit, where the employer required the employee to work “off the clock” several minutes per shift. We do not decide whether there are circumstances where compensable time is so minute or irregular that it is unreasonable to expect the time to be recorded.
Slip op., at 1-2. "So minute or or irregular." Looks like even small amounts of time that can be recorded and occur regularly must be captured and paid.
I will be back in a few after I take a victory lap. Thanks to everyone who helped me to polish my briefing to a shine, including Kimberly Kralowec, among others.
H. Scott Leviant, Shaun Setareh, and Thomas Segal of Setareh Law Group, David Spivak of The Spivak Law Firm, Lous Benowitz of the Law Offices of Louis Benowitz, and Stanley D. Satlzman of Marlin & Saltzman represented the prevailing Plaintiff and Appellant.