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Time spent doing both management and routine work should be paid overtime

To paraphrase Mr. Miyagi from the (original) “Karate Kid”, work activities that are entirely exempt are okay; those that are entirely non-exempt are okay; but those that straddle the fence will likely get employers squished, just like grapes. In Heyen v. Safeway, Inc., the Court of Appeals for the Second District held that California does not recognize “hybrid” employment activities, for purposes of overtime entitlement. If a manager is spending a majority of her time doing routine, front-line job duties (e.g., working a cash register, stocking shelves, etc.), she will be entitled to overtime, even if she is simultaneously “managing” while performing the grunt work. In Heyen, an assistant grocery store manager who was classified as “exempt” for purposes of overtime (meaning she did not receive overtime) spent most of her time doing the same duties as rank-and-file employees. Her employer, Safeway, contended that while she was doing those duties she was also managing her co-workers, thereby making her non-exempt (and not entitled to overtime). But the appeals court ruled that in California, the primary purpose of work determines whether it is exempt or non-exempt. So if work is done to assist with training or management, it is exempt; if it is done simply to get things done, it is non-exempt. Because the plaintiff in Heyen worked the cash register and stocked shelves because there were not enough hourly employees to get those jobs done, her work was deemed to be non-exempt, thereby entitling her to overtime. The primary lesson from the case is that workers who perform substantial amounts of routine hourly work will likely be considered non-exempt, even if they are supposed to be managing at the same time.