In Rutti v. LoJack, the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit held that employees are not entitled to pay for time spent driving to and from home to work under both California and Federal law. The court clarified that this is true even if the employee is driving a company-owned vehicle and is required to use such vehicle as a condition of employment. The fact that the company placed certain restrictions on the employee's use of its vehicle—restrictions against using the vehicle for personal pursuits and transporting passengers, the requirement that the employee drive directly from home to work, and that the employee have his cell phone on—also did not render his commute time compensable as these restrictions did not amount to legally cognizable work.
Plaintiff, a technician that commuted from his home to customer sites to install and repair vehicle recovery systems, also sought compensation for his daily morning activities prior to arriving at the customer site, including mapping out his routes, prioritizing his jobs for the day, and receiving instructions on the day's jobs. The court found that these activities were non-compensable because they were preliminary activities related to plaintiff's commute and were clearly distinct from his principal activities for the company. The court also found that these activities did not take up sufficient time and were therefore non-compensable "de minimis" work.
The court, however, found that plaintiff may be compensated for "postliminary" activity, which involved uploading his data in his handheld computer to the company's system at the end of his workday. This was found to be an integral part of the job and was performed every day. The court remanded the matter back to the trial court to determine whether this postliminary work was "de minimis."