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The Ninth Circuit has affirmed a district court’s judgment awarding tens of millions of dollars in d

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has held that whether an employee deserves pay in California turns on whether the employer exercised control over the employee, not whether the employee is actively working; federal law says nothing about states requiring employers to pay workers that are under the employer’s control while on break. (See, Ridgeway v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. - filed Jan. 6, 2020 -- 2020 S.O.S. 17-15983.)

In Ridgeway v. Wal-Mart Stores, the panel rejected Wal-Mart’s claims that plaintiffs should not have been awarded damages for layovers, rest breaks, and inspections. Specifically, the panel held that the district court correctly concluded that, under California law, time drivers spent on layovers was compensable if Wal-Mart exercised control over the drivers during those breaks. The panel further held that a comprehensive review of the WalMart pay manual demonstrated that it unambiguously required drivers to obtain preapproval to take a layover at home, and therefore, the district court did not err in granting partial summary judgment on this issue to plaintiffs. The panel also held that the district court correctly determined that Wal-Mart’s written policies, if applied as written, resulted in Wal-Mart exercising control over employees during mandated layovers as a matter of California law. The panel held that the district court properly instructed the jury on layovers. The panel also held that there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find that Wal-Mart had exercised control over its drivers. The panel rejected Wal-Mart’s contention that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act preempted California law governing layovers. The panel also affirmed the district court’s judgment awarding damages to plaintiffs for rest breaks and inspections.

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