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Employees lose reporting time claim, must pay employer's fees

That's the bad news. The only good news is, the employees who lost the case of Aleman v. AirTouch Cellular will likely have to pay less than the $140,000 each that the trial court originally ordered them to pay. In 2007, a group of employees, including Daniel Krofta and Mary Katz, sued AirTouch Cellular for reporting time and split shift pay arising from mandatory meetings the employees had to attend. The employees worked at mall kiosks selling AirTouch phones and service plans. They had set schedules which included occasional weekend training meetings that ran for approximately one hour. The employees claimed they should have received "reporting time" pay for days they attended meetings without doing any other work and "split shift differential" pay for days when they attended meetings and subsequently worked regular shifts. Regarding reporting time pay, which is required when employees come in to work but do not work at least half their "usual or scheduled" shifts, the court held that the employees were not entitled to it because their training meetings had been previously scheduled. Regarding split shift pay, which requires that employees be paid at least minimum wage (plus one additional hour) for all hours they work during split shifts, the court held that it is only owed if employees net less than the applicable state minimum wage. Since AirTouch's employees made close to double the then-applicable minimum wage, they were not entitled to any additional pay, even though they worked split shifts. Because they lost, Krofta and Katz were initially ordered to pay AirTouch $146,000 and $140,000, respectively, for attorneys' fees. The court ordered those amounts reduced, finding that the employees could be made to pay fees for their split shift claim (which does not seek minimum wages) but not for their reporting time claim (which does). In its ruling, the court called the employees' claims "misguided and fruitless," perhaps explaining why they were assessed such significant fees.

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