On-Call Pay Issue Undecided, as Calif. Ruling for Retailer Reversed

Richard Bridgford, founding partner of Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian spoke with Bloomberg Law about prevailing in a lawsuit against retailer Tilly’s Inc. Bridgford said this decision could bring some equality to the relationship between workers and employers.

“In holding that the definition of ‘reporting’ does not require actual physical presence at the workplace, the decision helps to level the uneven playing field between retail employers and their employees—a balance which had been thrown further out of kilter by all the conveniences of the digital age,” he said. “The reality is that with the advent of email and cellphones, employers became capable of tying up employees at all hours of the day.”

The decision, in which a three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal reversed an earlier court’s decision in favor of the company and found that the procedures allegedly implemented by the company take advantage of workers by occupying their time without pay. The Feb. 4 ruling sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.

“As we explain, 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,” the judges wrote. “This is precisely the kind of abuse that reporting time pay was designed to discourage.”