American Automobile Association Sued For Violating Labor Laws

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The American Automobile Association (AAA) is being sued after several former and current customer service reps allege that it broke both state and federal labor laws.

The lawsuit, Longoria et al. v. the American Automobile Association, was filed in Arizona Federal Court on September 25, 2020.  According to HR Dive‘s Lisa Burden, the suit alleges that workers were not paid for 30 minutes of work-related duties before they were allowed to clock in.  The tasks included clearing computer caches and activating a pinpoint mapping system. The reps say that the prep-work, which took approximately 30 minutes before each shift, was integral to performing their job duties.

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) and state statutes, employers are required to pay workers for pre-shift and post-shift activities. Though not always clear, the U.S. Department of Labor also considers that workers should be paid for that time, especially if those duties’ performance is necessary to perform a worker’s job. In 2014, this was confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a recent case, this assertion was affirmed by the 10th United States Circuit Court of Appeals when it was determined that state prison officers were to be compensated for their time for activities such as security screenings and pre-shift briefings. The court concluded that these activities, referred to as “doffing and donning,” should be compensated because they are duties that are “integral and indispensable parts of the principal activities” of the workers’ jobs. 

In a case similar to the one filed by Longoria et al. by call center workers, PNC Bank agreed to pay $2.75 million in compensation to current and former customer service reps who were also required to perform specific pre-shift duties before clocking in. 

In other cases, employers had come out the winners when they argued that such activities are de minimus, or taking little of a worker’s time.  A California Court granted summary judgment in a suit filed by workers against athletic apparel, giant Converse. The court found that the bag checks regularly performed on each worker’s shift, often took less than 10 seconds and were not compensated, should not be paid.