The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets overtime rules that appear simple, but failing to determine accurately what is compensable “work” creates liability that can lead to class (collective) action suits.

In Cardena v. Customer Connexx LLC, the 9th Circuit ruled that a Nevada class of call center agents who placed calls solely through computer software were entitled to pay for their time booting-up computers and logging in. Finding the work activities the agents performed included “answering customer phone calls and scheduling appliance pickups,” the Court determined that the agents could not perform their work without first logging-in to their work computers.

Work activities are compensable under the FLSA, if the activities are an integral part of an employee’s duties. In Cardena, the court deemed the required preparation of the necessary computer equipment, i.e., a computer log-in by employees, to be integral to the employees’ duties. With that finding, the time was compensable.

The employees estimated that their computers took on average between 6 and 12 minutes to boot up. This case proves it is critical to determine how long it takes for the typical log-in process and to ensure that employees are “on-the-clock” for their log-in time.

Per the FLSA, if an employer commits a willful violation, in addition to the unpaid wages owed, the back-pay may be doubled and the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees and costs must be paid. There is a 3-year statute of limitations for FLSA cases, if willful violations are alleged. The federal Dept. of Labor and many sister state agencies investigate these wage and hour issues.

Have questions about the FLSA, work-at-home record-keeping obligations, compensable time, or paying employees for log-ins? Don’t worry – we are here to help!

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