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Starbucks loses class-action lawsuit for unpaid wages

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2018 | Firm News

California is a state that employers need to be especially careful in when it comes to paying their workers fairly. The state leads the country in the amount of wage theft lawsuits per year. This is because these managers fail to realize that California’s labor laws have strengthened considerably in the last couple of decades to give employees more freedom when it comes to taking their issues with the company to court.

The popular coffeehouse chain Starbucks is suffering the consequences for their failure to account for California’s labor laws. A recent successful lawsuit from a Los Angeles employee demonstrates that you should not be afraid to pursue legal action against your employer for potential wage theft.

Small overtime makes a big difference

A Los Angeles shift supervisor brought upon the case. The employee’s reasoning for pursuing the lawsuit is because he had to perform many additional tasks after clocking out. He spent 4 to 10 minutes sending sales data to the headquarters, setting the store’s alarm, locking the door and walking co-workers to their cars. He would go on to total the amount of additional minutes he performed for a year and a half and finds that he would’ve earned over $100 if he was on the clock.

In court, the de minimis federal rule was the subject of debate. In other states, this rule states that employees are not entitled to payment for just a few minutes or seconds over work. However, California has not formally adopted this law. While working for just a few minutes past the clock can still be withheld, the court determined that this was an exception to the rule because the employee was performing regular tasks past the clock on a daily basis. The court ruled 7-0 in favor of the employee.

Starbucks changes for the court

As a result of the ruling, Starbucks now has to pay employees for regular tasks performed past the clock. The company was not in favor of the ruling and argued that employers should not be in charge of keeping track of all of these extra minutes, but the court states that the difficulty of keeping track of all the minutes should not just be left to the employee.

This lawsuit demonstrates that not even giant corporations like Starbucks have full immunity from wage theft liability. If you are not getting paid for regular daily tasks that go beyond your work hours, then you can seek legal action against your employer to get back the money that you are rightfully owed.