SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declared that a petitioner seeking overtime pay and damages under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act was misguided in his claims that the time clock rounding system cheated him of his pay.
Andre Corbin filed a lawsuit against his employer, Time Warner Entertainment-Advance/Newhouse Partnership, claiming that he was shortchanged by the company when it applied the time clock rounding practice. Upon the dismissal of the case by the district court, the petitioner submitted the matter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In its ruling, which was written by Judge Jay Scott Bybee, the appellate court reiterated the earlier decision and also dismissed the claims of Corbin.
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“Corbin’s argument, if accepted, would undercut the purpose and would gut the effectiveness of a rounding policy. In fact, Corbin’s preferred interpretation would require employers to engage in the very mathematical calculations that the federal rounding regulation serves to avoid,” wrote Bybee in the ruling.
He further explained, “Mandating that every employee must gain or break even over every pay period misreads the text of the federal rounding regulation and vitiates the purpose and effectiveness of using rounding as a timekeeping method.”
Some employers do not compensate their workers based on their exact number of hours or minutes. Instead, they implement the “rounding” or “round off” practice. Under this system, a particular interval would be set to serve as the minimum time. This would be the recognized as the unit of time worked or not worked by the employees. The time worked or missed within the said interval would not be added to or deducted from the official hours of the employee. Meanwhile, the time worked or missed outside the interval would be added to or deducted from the recorded hours.
In his complaint, Corbin stated that he lost $15.02 and one minute due to the defendant’s time clock rounding compensation policy. In the case of Time Warner, the company rounded the time stamps of its employees to the nearest quarter hour. According to his statements, the plaintiff reached a total of $15.02 on lost wages. As for the one minute, he categorized this as uncompensated time. Corbin shared that he had once mistakenly logged in an auxiliary computer program instead of the timekeeping software platform of the company. As a result, he lost a minute from his total work hours. With these circumstances in mind, Corbin asserted that he was entitled to relief under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. In addition to this, he sought the same from state employment law of California as well.
The Ninth Circuit court rejected Corbin’s claim that his company failed to compensate him for the extra minute he logged in during one of his work days. He alleged that the use of the rounding system deprived him of the overtime pay he should have received for overtime. Upon review of the company’s system, the court found that the policy benefited both the employer and its employees equally. That is, the time clock rounding system of the defendants was fair and neutral to all concerned.