Learn how wage and hour laws protect employees’ rights to get paid even while waiting for employers to act. 

Employers Must Pay For Any Extra Work After Hours. An expensive lesson: Recent Home Depot Settlement Says Employers Cannot Get Away with Forcing Employees to Stay at Work without Pay

Recently, Home Depot learned a valuable (and expensive) lesson. A settlement was reached between Home Depot and their hourly employees relating to a wage and hour issue. As a result, the settlement sets a standard that non-exempt employees may be entitled to compensation for doing nothing.

Read on to learn about the details of the settlement and what that means for hourly employees and their compensation.

What Was the Wage and Hour Argument Against Home Depot?

Hourly employees in California filed a claim against Home Deport for lost wages. Company policy for Home Depot closers stated that employees should clock out, however, they had to wait until everyone was ready to leave in order to leave. Since they were clocked out, they did not get paid for this extra time for which they were literally doing nothing but standing around and waiting to be allowed to leave.

The issue was that these employees were following company mandates and were not allowed to leave or go home during this waiting period. Understandably, this protocol was for safety reasons. However, the employees were being held without compensation or the freedom to leave during this time after clocking out.

Under the law, non-exempt employees are entitled to pay for any functions relating to work or the working environment, including waiting for instruction or the ability to perform the next task (even leaving).

What Does This Settlement Mean for Employees?

California labor laws favor employees more than employers in many circumstances. However, some of the laws used to file this claim against Home Depot are common in federal and other state laws.

This Home Depot settlement demonstrates how the laws must be upheld when discussing compensation for hourly employees. Hourly employees have the right to get paid for all the time worked. Time worked refers to so much more than performing tasks relating to your daily job duties.

Time work applies to the following items that employees must do while under the management of their employer:

  • Direct tasks relating to their employment (stocking shelves, helping customers, counting money, conducting inventory, etc.)
  • Time waiting for instruction (waiting for a mandatory meeting to start, instruction for the next task, waiting to be allowed to begin working after clocking in or leaving work after the end of the shift, etc.)
  • Donning and Doffing equipment (putting necessary safety equipment on and taking it off)
  • Time spent attending and participating in training.
  • Time spent attending mandatory workplace meetings.

The Home Depot settlement sets a precedent that tells employers they cannot get free work or free time from hourly employees under any circumstances. Furthermore, employers are not permitted to round down time worked for employees. For example, if an employee clocks out at 11:46, they must be paid for the full amount of time worked, or the employer can round up. However, the employer cannot round down their pay and only compensates them until 11:45.

How Can Employees Get Compensated for Wage and Hour Law Violations?

Wage and hour laws prevent employers from taking advantage of their hourly and non-exempt employees. Should employers choose to ignore these laws, employees have the right to hold their employers accountable and demand the compensation they are owed.

The laws allow employees to sue employers for lost wages, including money owed for simply waiting around for the next instruction and the small amount that may be owed for rounding down employee hours.

Based on the Home Depot settlement, and federal and state laws, employees have the right to get paid for their time at work, even if their time at work is spent waiting for instruction or the right to leave. Employers may attempt to ignore the law, hoping employees will not hold them accountable. However, as an hourly employee, you have the right to get paid for every day, hour, minute, and second you work.

Working with an employee labor attorney who knows wage and hour laws in your state can help you get the compensation they deserve. Many times, labor law violations will allow employees to obtain actual damages (the money their employer owes them), as well as interest (in California it is 10%), penalties, and attorney and court fees. Your employer may end up paying you well over what they would have paid if they simply followed the law. Furthermore, your employment attorney will help you hold your employer accountable for their actions, as well as get you the compensation you worked for.

If you or someone you know was the victim of wage and hour violations in the workplace, the employment lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group in New York City, Philadelphia, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New Jersey can help. Call for a free consultation at 800.807.2209.