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Not all commute time compensable under "continuous workday" rule

2nd Circuit case reminds employers to clarify what constitutes working time.

A 2nd Circuit decision may have finally quelled lingering questions about when the workday begins and ends for remote employees who commute to and from multiple worksites. Following a trend of recent decisions in this vein, the court ruled May 5 in Kuebel v. Black & Decker that just because an employee works from home, not all time spent commuting is compensable under the “continuous workday” rule. 

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York had granted summary judgment in favor of Black & Decker (B&D) regarding the claim that an employee should be compensated for all time spent commuting. Under the continuous workday rule, a principle incorporated in DOL regulations, employers generally are required to pay employees for all time spent traveling after the workday has begun. The district court found that the tasks the plaintiff performed at home were not “integral and indispensable” to the principal job functions, could have been completed at any time during the day, and therefore did not extend the workday to include morning and evening commutes. The 2nd Circuit affirmed the decision, but on different grounds, holding that even if the work performed at home was integral and indispensable, this did not mean commute time should be compensable.

Kuebel’s Claims

Greg Kuebel was employed by B&D as a retail specialist from September 2006 to June 2007. His primary responsibilities were to ensure that B&D products were properly displayed, stocked and priced at six assigned Home Depot stores in his region. Kuebel was expected to spend five to eight hours per day completing these types of in-store activities. To track time worked, B&D issued him a PDA upon which he was to record entry and exit times at each store, which he would sync with B&D’s server. Additionally, he was required to record his time spent preparing for store visits. B&D compensated him for these tasks, as well as for time spent commuting to stores in excess of 60 minutes or 60 miles.

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