The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a finding made by a Colorado federal court that Nelnet employees in Omaha, Lincoln and Aurora, Colorado were not entitled to pay for the time they spent booting up their computer.
In a relatively simple terms, the trial court found that Nelnet call center workers were performing work for the purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act when they booted up their computers and computer programs before shift. But the time they spent was 1) too hard to measure for the company and 2) too small an amount of time to count as a matter of law.
In the case, the court estimated workers lost $.48 per shift for time spent waiting for a computer and programs to boot up.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision and gave a good explanation of how the de minimis exception works. In order for the de minimis exception to apply there is a balancing test that takes into account three factors 1) ability to measure the time 2) amount of money lost and 3) whether the time not paid was part of regular duties.
It was undisputed that the time booting up time was part of regular duties. This was important for the employees. The appellate court found the defendant couldn’t argue that keeping track of time was too difficult when they had estimated it for the purpose of the case.
The court also found that the losses for the employees were not negligible. The court noted that $.48 per shift works out to $125 per year which is a meaningful amount of money for employees who were earning $13.50 per hour.
The skywalks once served as an indoor mall in downtown Lincoln connecting stores, parking garages and hotels. (My mom worked at Miller and Paine in the 1970s and 1980s in a building that now houses Nelnet) The skywalks and buildings served by them mainly serve office workers in downtown Lincoln. I frequent the skywalks when I have work obligations downtown. Many major downtown employers, such as Nelnet, subsidize employee parking in various downtown garages. Employees can access those garages through the skywalks.
In theory, indoor walkways like the skywalk system would reduce the chances of slip and fall accidents. But from a recent observation, maintenance is lacking some parts of the Skywalk. I observed a leaky roof that lead to wet carpet on an internal walkway in the US Bank building in August.
I recently represented a downtown office worker who feared being assaulted walking to her parking spot late at night. Skywalks can help reduce the risk of employees being assaulted on the way to their cars.
My view is that downtown business owners and the city need to work together to maintain the skywalk system in the interest of worker safety.