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November 2022

Ninth Circuit Says Time Spent Booting Up Computers May Be Compensable

In Cadena v. Customer Conexx LLC (“Cadena”)[1], the Ninth Circuit held that the time that call center employees spent logging into their computers was compensable. Conexx (a call center providing scheduling services for a recycling center) required its employees to use computers that allowed them to log into and out of their shifts. Once clocked in, employees could access a phone program that employees used to make calls. At the end of their shifts, employees would finish any calls they were on, close out any job-relevant programs, clock out, and them log off or shut down their computers. Connexx estimated that it took anywhere from 4.75 to 7.75 minutes on average for employees to log off on their computers.

Cadena filed a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act and analogous Nevada state law claims alleging that employees were entitled to compensation for the time it took to log on/boot up their computers. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Connexx on the ground that “[s]tarting and turning off computers and clocking in and out of a timekeeping system are not principal activities because [Connexx] did not hire its customer service agents to turn computers on and off or to clock in and out of a timekeeping system.” The Ninth Circuit, however, disagreed and reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment. In reversing the district court, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court erred by assessing the issue of compensability based on whether the activity of clocking into their shifts was integral and indispensable to the principal activity that employees were required to perform (making calls), an activity that is typically not compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Instead, the Ninth Circuit held that the activity of employees logging into computers was compensable because employees could not make any calls unless they were able to access the various programs and features on their computers to make calls. Therefore, the Ninth Circuit determined that the employees’ logging into their computers was an “integral and indispensable” activity to render the time potentially compensable under the FLSA.

The Cadena court also relied on a recent decision addressing similar claims for unpaid time under the FLSA brought by call center employees in the Tenth Circuit. (Peterson v. Nelnet Diversified Solutions, 20-1217 (10th Cir. 2020). In Peterson, the court found that a Colorado district court correctly held that the time call center workers spent booting up their computers was integral to their jobs, but disagreed with the district court’s finding that the time was de minimis so as to render the time not compensable because the time (just two minutes) was regularly occurring and could be recorded.

Practical Concerns

Employers should review their policies and procedures and methods of timekeeping, especially electronic timekeeping to avoid unintended wage and hour claims. Employers should also consider providing a separate means for employees to electronically log in and out of their shifts apart from any other work-related computer applications and/or consider a means of recording and paying for the time employees spend to electronically log in and out of their shifts to avoid wage and hour claims. Of course, each employers’ particular circumstances are different and should be assessed individually with the assistance of experienced counsel. We are happy to assist you in this regard.

Employment Law

Employment Law