Even Though the Ninth Circuit Held that Time Spent Booting Up Computers is Compensable, the De Minimis Rule Still Doomed the FLSA Claims

In Cedena v. Customer Connexx LLC, 51 F.4th 831 (2022), reversing the district court's summary judgment ruling, the Ninth Circuit held that the time spent by call center workers booting up their computers and logging into the time system constituted compensable time, as the time spent performing these tasks was an integral and indispensable part of the employees' principal job duties. Id. at 838-40. The Ninth Circuit also held that, although shutting down the computers was not "integral and indispensable" to the employees' principal job duties, that the time spent engaging in this task "may be compensable if the task is determined to be a principal activity in and of itself." Id. at 838, n. 4.

Even though the Court recognized, at 51 F.4th at 841, that the United States Supreme Court in Sandifer v. U.S. Steel Corp., 571 U.S. 220, 234 (2014), questioned the applicability of the de minimis rule to the FLSA, stating "[a] de minimis doctrine does not fit comfortably within the statute at issue here [the FLSA], which, it can fairly be said, is all about trifles", the Court nonetheless remanded the matter to the district court with instructions that the district court determine whether time spent shutting down computers is compensable, and whether the time spent booting up and down the computers is not compensable under the de minimis doctrine. 51 F.4th at 841.

While appearing to ignore evidence to the contrary, the district court again granted Customer Connexx's request for summary judgment, holding: "no genuine dispute remains that the time spent turning on the computers and logging into the timekeeping system and shutting down the computers was de minimis . . ." Cedena v. Customer Connexx LLC, 2023 WL 3584254, *5 (D. Nev. May 22, 2023). In the next appeal, it will be interesting to see if the Ninth Circuit reevaluates the de minimis doctrine in light of Sandifer.

Thankfully, as the Ninth Circuit confirmed in Rodriguez v. Nike Retail Services, Inc., 928 F.3d 810, 816 (2019), the California Supreme Court in Troester v. Starbucks Corp., 5 Cal. 5th 829 (2018), as modified on denial of reh'g (Aug. 29, 2018), made clear that the de minimis doctrine does not apply to wage and hour claims brought under the California Labor Code.

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