Just catching up on a lot of blogging and case updates I've missed over the last several weeks and noticed this decision out of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on the ever-popular issue of compensable time. The case, Kellar v. Summit Seated, Inc., Case No. No. 11-1221, involved an employee who performed substantial pre-shift activities and believed she was entitled to overtime pay because the activities constituted compensable time. However, the 7th Circuit held that the employee was not entitled to overtime pay because she failed to show that her supervisors had actual or even constructive knowledge of her overtime work.
The 7th Circuit also found several other things wrong with the plaintiff's pre-shift routine in upholding the lower court's decision. First, the court noted how the plaintiff conceded that most employees who clocked in early did not perform work until their shift began. Next, the court noted that the plaintiff's behavior did not raise any red flags. For instance, the plaintiff did not record her pre-shift time – rather she consistently indicated on her time cards that she arrived at the beginning of her shift, not before it. Moreover, she attended weekly meetings with her supervisors in which schedules were discussed, but never disclosed that she had worked pre-shift time or complained about the same. In sum, the supervisors had no reason to know that she had worked unpaid overtime.
While it is unfortunate that this plaintiff worked to the employer's benefit and will not receive pay, the lesson to be learned here is to keep your employer informed when it comes to pay. As this case highlights, it is never safe to assume that you will be paid for any and all work performed.