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"On call" Employees in CA Entitled to Additional Compensation

Businesses often have trouble determining their staffing needs weeks or sometimes even days in advance due to unexpected surges or drops in clientele or unfavorable weather conditions for those working outdoors. To remedy this, employers utilize an "on call" system that allows them to overschedule employees and then cancel the shifts of any employee who is no longer needed. Those overscheduled employees, however, are often not notified until just one (1) hour before they had been scheduled to work.

One such employer who utilized this "on call" system was Tilly's. Tilly's employees were required to call in two (2) hours before they were scheduled to go into work. If they were still needed, they would show up and get paid for their regular shift. If they were not needed, however, they were not compensated. One of Tilly's California's employees, Skylar Ward, alleged that this practice violated California Code of Regulations (Section 11070) which requires employers to pay for "reporting time." This law states that workers who "report for work," in other words show up to work, must be compensated for at least two hours of pay, even if they are not put to work.

Skyler Ward sued the company on behalf of herself and all other on call workers at Tilly's. In Ward v. Tilly's, Inc., California's Second District Court of Appeals ruled in Skyler's favor arguing that "on-call shifts burden employees, who cannot take other jobs, go to school, or make social plans during on-call shifts - but who nonetheless receive no compensation from Tilly's unless they ultimately are called in to work."

This case may still be reversed by the Supreme Court, but for the time being, the Second District has ruled that an employee who is required to report to work, "must be paid for half the employee's scheduled shift for the day, but in no event less than two hours nor more than four hours of pay."

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