On-call employees of fast food chain Yoshinoya claim they are owed reporting time pay when they call in for a shift but are not put to work. A L.A. Superior Court judge recently ruled that the plaintiffs may pursue their claims. This putative class of kitchen and cashier “on-call” employees call two hours before their scheduled shift to find out whether they are needed to work. If they fail to call in or do not show up for work when needed, they may face discipline. Plaintiffs claim that they are entitled to reporting time pay when they call in but are not put to work, even though they are not required to physically report to work.

In California, if an employee reports to work but is not put to work, the employer must pay the employee half their usual or scheduled day’s work, with a minimum of two hours. This case questions whether “report to work” means the employee must be physically present at the worksite. The employer sought to dismiss the case before trial, on the ground that the plain language of the reporting pay requirement defeats the plaintiffs’ case as a matter of law. Interpreting the reporting pay requirement in the context of “the modern era, where many workers remotely [use]{:target=”blank”} telephones to clock in and out for time keeping purposes,” the Court reasoned that common sense and the “ordinary reading” of the law would include remotely reporting via telephone under the reporting pay requirement.

This issue has been addressed in Ward v. Tilly’s, L.A. Superior Court Case No. BC595405, which is currently pending appeal and may result in a controlling decision.

What does this mean for you? While the L.A. Superior Court’s decision here is not law, this case may signal a new avenue of wage and hour liability and focus for employees and plaintiff’s counsel. As the Court notes, the issue is on appeal, and may result in controlling law in the near future. In the meantime, employers who use on-call shifts should review their policies to ensure they are implementing best practices.

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