May It Please The Court

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Quote of the Day - Blame is a lazy man's wages. - Danish proverb
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If You Have To Walk A Mile For A Camel, Then Does Your Employer Have To Pay You?

If your employees have to park a long way from work and you offer voluntary transportation to and from the parking lot and your place of work, do you owe those employees wages for the time spent transporting them?

This question isn't one that many businesses have to answer, but as you can imagine, a big business or one with an place of work where there's a shortage of parking spaces will likely want to know the answer to this question.  Right off the bat, I can think that ski resorts, agricultural operations, amusement parks, entertainment facilities (think downtown sports arenas), companies with off-site operations and a host of other businesses may be affected by enterprising employees seeking a bit of extra compensation.

That's the situation that Disney faced from an employee at Disneyland who parked a mile away from work and rode a company shuttle to and from the parking lot to the park.  He wanted to get paid for that time.

The California Supreme Court for the most part already addressed this problem, and created a test:  are the employees subject to the company's control ("forced" to ride the bus)?  If so, then the employer must pay the employees for "hours worked."  The Court noted that federal wage and hour law is different than California's, so you will need to check federal and other state law if your business is not in California or you are subject to federal wage laws. 

Here, however, Disney offered its employees innumerable options to get to work, some that included being dropped off in front of the park, carpools that had closer parking spots and others that did not require use of the bus.  For that matter, the employee could have walked or bicycled the mile between the parking lot and the park.

The Court held for Disney and against the employee, and the class of other employees he was trying to bring into the action, reasoning that since the employee had so many options, the employee wasn't forced to ride the bus as the only option between parking and work.

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, February 03, 2006 at 11:55 Comments (0)


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