A recent ruling by the Supreme Court of California vividly illustrates how some state wage and hour laws – in this case California’s – can be interpreted in a way that not only directly conflicts with federal requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), but can impose costly unanticipated obligations on employers operating within those jurisdictions.

In Amanda Frlekin et al. v. Apple Inc., the state’s high court concluded that the time spent waiting for and undergoing onsite security screenings is “hours worked” and thus compensable under state law, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that employee post-shift screenings are often not compensable under the FLSA because such activities are not an integral and indispensable part of the employees’ jobs.

Rejecting all of the company’s arguments as to why it did not control the employees’ activities during the search – calling one argument “far-fetched and untenable” – the California Supreme Court found that with respect to onsite employer-controlled activities, California state courts should consider myriad non-exhaustive factors, such as the mandatory nature of the activity, the activity’s location, the activity’s benefactor, and policies relating to enforcing the policy, in determining whether screenings are compensable. Applying these factors, the court had no trouble finding the time to be compensable. The text of the court’s ruling in Apple is available online.

Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.