Kenneth Burton began every workday by driving to a Hillsborough County, Fla., parking lot, where he parked his car, picked up a county vehicle containing tools and equipment and proceeded to Public Works Department job sites to inspect the work of subcontractors. At the end of the day, he returned the county vehicle to the lot, retrieved his own car and drove home. Burton and other county engineers with similar responsibilities were not paid for the time they spent driving the county vehicles to and from the job sites--about 1.5 to 3 hours per day.
In January 2004, Burton and several other field engineers filed suit against the county, seeking, among other things, compensation for the travel time. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the engineers should have received overtime pay for that time, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in May, upholding a lower court decision for Burton and his colleagues. In doing so, the court further defined what is compensable travel time under the FLSA and the Portal-to-Portal Act exception.