The California Supreme Court recently made an important decision that will better ensure that Fresno employees who work by the hour get paid for all of their work. This recent decision made a bit of a splash in the news media, since it undermined a common practice among employers and also set a higher bar in this state than what would apply under federal wage and hour rules.

Specifically, under federal law, an employer does not have to pay for every minute that the employee works. In the eyes of the federal courts, to require this would be impractical, as employees always have to take a few short moments to set up before work begins and shut things down after their shift is over.

The California court did not see the matter in this way, however, when it reviewed a case involving a supervisor at Starbucks. As a matter of routine, the supervisor was expected to do several chores prior to closing but after he had clocked out for the day, including transmitting a sales report and setting the night alarm on the store. The court concluded that he was entitled to pay for these 5 or so minutes of daily chores. Over the course of his 17 months of work, his back pay built up to over $100, at the rate of about 80 cents a day.

Being deprived wages one is rightly owed, even slowly and over a long period of time, can mean hundreds of dollars out of an employee’s pocket and can, in that sense, be just as bad as employment discrimination. In these sorts of situations, an employee may have legal options.