- PNC Bank has agreed to pay $2.75 million to a class of former customer service reps to settle allegations they were regularly required to work off the clock and were denied overtime pay (Herbin v. The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., No. 19-cv-00696 (W.D. Pa. Jan. 21, 2020)).
- The reps claimed PNC failed to accurately track or record their actual hours worked, required them to work off-the-clock overtime, and told them not to clock in until several preliminary tasks (including booting up computers and reading emails and reference materials) were completed. They also were allegedly told to clock out before shutting down computers at the end of each shift.
- The three named plaintiffs claimed they regularly worked up to three off-the-clock, unpaid overtime hours each week.
With few exceptions, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates that non-exempt employees be paid for all time worked. Even if employees erroneously or deliberately work more hours than they are supposed to, that time must be paid. (Discipline, however, may follow.)
Federal law is not completely clear, however, on when time worked before or after the official work day must be paid. These activities, known as "preliminary" and "postliminary" duties, are sometimes considered paid work time and sometimes not, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
CorePower Yoga recently paid $1.5 million to settle claims brought by yoga instructors who said they were not paid for time spent preparing for classes. And multiple employers, including Big Lots, have been sued under California law over post-shift bag inspections.
In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that only "principal activities" — tasks considered indispensable to an employee's job — must be compensated under federal law. The Court concluded that the post-shift security screening activities in a particular case did not qualify, even though they took nearly half an hour to perform.
Proper training for employees and managers, along with enforcement of timekeeping policies, can be employers' best defense to class-action suits, experts say.