Working time cases, especially those claiming pay for preliminary or postliminary work are difficult and dangerous because they sneak up on an employer. These activities may seem minimal, or not connected to the main job as to be part of it (in the employer’s view) but under the FLSA, that may not be the case. A recent class action filed against an Amazon “last-mile” delivery entity is illustrating these principles. The case is entitled Dixon v. Regional Express Clev Inc. et al., and was filed in federal court in the Northern District of Ohio.
The named plaintiff alleges that he and other putative class members were compelled to come in early for mandatory meetings; they also had to pick up their truck keys and gasoline cards before they left the facility. They were not paid for this time and assert that the “defendants did not pay plaintiff and the class all wages earned for all work performed at the beginning and ends of their shifts and work performed during missed and interrupted meal breaks.”
The named plaintiff was a driver, who worked for only a few months. He claims that he and other drivers worked beyond the end of their shifts, making deliveries, but were not paid for this time. He claims it could take up to an hour. He also makes the “integral and indispensable” argument in the Complaint, asserting that he could not do delivery work without the truck keys and money for gasoline.
He also alleges that the workers did not get a full, uninterrupted, thirty minute lunch break. He claims the Company put pressure on drivers to take the meal break, because they would not be able to make all of their rounds and deliveries. He asserts that even if they worked through lunch, the Company’s policy if automatically deducting that half-hour kicked in and they were (again) denied proper compensation. He seeks class certification under the FLSA and Ohio law.
This might be a case where a de minimis argument actually works, in whole or part. Picking up the keys and getting a gas card—is that all of the preliminary activity being alleged. How long can that take? One minute? Two? Now, if pre-shift meetings were also held (and not paid for) then the de minimis argument does not seem that compelling.
It’s certainly worth a try…