Brigham v. Eugene Water & Elec. Bd., 357 F.3d 931 (9th Cir. 2004)

James Brigham and other employees of the Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) were stationed at the Carmen Smith Hydroelectric Project, a power generation facility straddling the upper McKenzie River, 70 miles east of Eugene, Oregon, in the Willamette National Forest. Four EWEB employees worked and were required to live on-site in housing provided by EWEB. The employees worked four-day weeks, which consisted of three “maintenance” shifts (10 hours per shift) and one “duty” shift (24 hours). During the duty shifts, the employees worked approximately six hours, were paid for 10 hours, but were on call for the full 24 hours. On-duty employees were compensated at a double-time rate for any call-out time lasting more than 15 minutes. The employees alleged a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, claiming they were owed unpaid overtime for the duty shifts. The district court granted EWEB’s motion for summary judgment, but the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that the employees were not completely free to pursue personal activities during their on-call shifts. The Court remanded the case to the district court “to craft a workable mechanism for determining how many hours each employee worked in each week he was employed… and how much overtime compensation he is entitled to receive.”