A federal court in California has determined that the tasks an employee performed only when working the closing shift for Starbucks Corp. consumed a de minimis amount of time and thus dismissed his claims that the company violated the state Labor Code by failing to pay him for that time. Troester v. Starbucks Corp., No. 12-7677 (U.S. Dist. Ct., C.D. Cal., order entered March 7, 2014).
According to the court, the software Starbucks used during the relevant time period required an employee to clock out before initiating the store closing procedure, which involved setting the store alarm and locking the door, tasks that took no more than one to two minutes. Other tasks the employee under- took included walking employees to their cars or staying with them until they were picked up, placing forgotten patio furniture indoors, or even re-entering the store to retrieve an employee’s personal belongings. In the court’s view, “[e]ven assuming all of this time otherwise would be compensable ‘work,’ it generally totaled less than four minutes, and nearly always was less than 10 minutes,” a span of time found by other courts to be de minimis—a defense to wage claims asserted under the California Labor Code.
Because the employee’s other claims were derivative of the claim for unpaid wages, the court found that they too failed as a matter of law.