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Friday, October 08, 2010

Best Buy employees get $900,000 settlement for unpaid wages

Electronics retail giant, Best Buy has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by former and current employees for  working time not being properly compensated amounting to $902,410.00 plus other non-monetary relief and the costs of administration.

That working time in dispute was the minutes spent going through security clearings at the end of the work day, AFTER employees have been clocked out for their shift AND for failure to pay them working thru breaks. The case was filed in October 2008 on behalf of current and former employees who worked at any of the 25 Best buy stores in Pennsylvania since October 2003. But the company maintained that it properly paid all employees for all time worked, and denied any culpability.  The case is entitled Turner v. Best Buy Company, Inc.

The plaintiff argued that going through the security check was an employer mandated “activity” that required compensation. According to the lawsuit, workers sometimes wait up to 15 minutes to be searched after each shift. The Plaintiff's lawyers also contend that in this particular case, going through the security clearings is a postliminary activity and therefore compensable. Read Atty. Gerald Lawrence of Lowey Dannenberg Cohen & Hart, P.C., Plaintiff's Law Office for more details of the case.

The class action settlement was granted on February 19, 2010, and final approval hearing is scheduled November 2010.

How to determine if a preliminary or postliminary activity is compensable

Image from renjith krishnan /
Many of us in some way, have undergone similar experiences when our employers or managers have required us to do something related to our principal activity off-the-clock, and we know that we deserve compensation, but we weren't.

The inventory industry is replete with such cases. You are probably silent about your own case or at least waiting for other co-workers who have similar cases and ramp up a class action lawsuit then join the fray later on.

The law is clear that an employer must pay employees for principal activities AND for preliminary activities at the beginning of the day and postliminary activities at the end of the day, as long as the preliminary and postliminary activities are integral to the employees' principal activities. If a preliminary or postliminary activity is found to be integrally related, then generally every activity after or before it is compensable under the "continuous workday" rule.

To determine whether preliminary or postliminary activities are compensable is the element of employer compulsion or the lack thereof. It asks the question, "Did your employer require you to perform the activity?" The other element is how integrally related to the main job is the side activity. It asks the question, "Is the activity in question an integral part of your principal activity?" If both answers to the questions are yes, then your preliminary and postliminary activities could be compensable.

To give an example of Continuous Workday Rule, and definition of preliminary and postliminary activities,  read a Supreme Court landmark decision on IBP v. Alvarez (546  U.S. 21 (2005)) and Rutti v. Lojack on off-the-clock compensability

So, what do you think, do you have a case?

Related Stories:

You may also like:

Workers' Compensation Law  Ultimate Guide to Workers' Compensation Insurance (Entrepreneur Magazine's Ultimate Books) Solving the Compensation Puzzle: Putting Together a Complete Pay and Performance System (Practical Hr Series) The Complete Guide to Sales Force Incentive Compensation: How to Design and Implement Plans That Work


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