The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of an overtime class action alleging unpaid commuting time. In Chambers v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 428 Fed. Appx. 400 (5th Cir. 2011), the workers filed a hybrid class and collective action alleging that they were due compensation for the time they spent driving to and from their homes in company-issued service vans. The employees participated in Sears’ voluntary “home dispatch program,” which allowed them to report directly to their first customer in the morning and return home immediately after their last. It was Sears’ practice to deduct the first and last 35 minutes of time spent commuting to and from the first and last job of the day. However, the employees were paid for any commuting time greater than 35 minutes. The workers argued that the deduction was arbitrary, but the Fifth Circuit disagreed, holding that the commute times should not be compensable. The court found that Sears conducted commuting studies before implementing the 35-minute deduction, and that the technicians offered no evidence that their commute times were greater than 35 minutes. The court also found that activities related to reporting for the first job of the day, such as downloading the day’s route and calling ahead to the customer, were either incidental or de minimis.
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Fifth Circuit affirms dismissal of commute-time collective action
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