In Mendiola v. CPS Security Solutions, Inc., a California court of appeal ruled that security guards must be paid for time spent on-call where they could not leave their work premises. CPS provides security guards for construction sites. During daytime hours, guards actively patrolled the site and were paid an hourly wage. During weeknights (9 pm to 5 am), the guards spent the night in employer-provided residential-type trailers and the time was classified as unpaid, on-call time. If there was an alarm or suspicious circumstances, the guards were required to don their uniform and investigate. Guards were paid for the actual investigation time only. The guards were allowed to keep personal items in the trailer, and could engage in personal activities such as reading, watching television, surfing the internet, and sleeping. However, children, pets, and alcohol were not permitted and adult visitors were allowed only with prior approval. If a guard wanted to leave the premises at night, he had to obtain a relief guard, stay within 30 minutes of the work site, and carry a pager.

On these facts, the court held that the degree of control exercised by the employer over the guards’ on-call time rendered the time hours worked, and the guards were thus entitled to minimum wage and overtime for all such hours.

On weekends, the guards were on-call for 24-hour shifts. The court ruled that 16 hours were hours worked. However, the employer was allowed to exclude 8 hours for sleep time so long as the sleep time was uninterrupted, the employer provided a comfortable place to sleep, and the parties had entered into an agreement to that effect.