Seymore v. Metson Marine, Inc., 194 Cal. App. 4th 361 (2011)

Plaintiffs Andrew Seymore and Kenneth Blonden were employed by Metson Marine as crew members on Metson’s offshore oil spill recovery vessels. Crew members worked 14-day rotational hitches, alternating with 14-day rest periods and were paid to work a 12-hour daily shift during the two-week period, except on crew-change days, when they worked only six hours. Crew members were paid an hourly rate for the full 12-hour shift regardless of whether they actually performed any work during those 12 hours, and they received a regular hourly rate for the first eight hours, time and one-half for the next four hours and, on those occasions that they actually worked more than 12 hours in a day, they were paid double time for all hours worked in excess of the usual 12-hour shift. The remaining 12 hours were designated as “off duty” even though crew members (who slept on the vessels) remained on stand by in that they were required to be able to return to the ship within 30 to 45 minutes of an emergency call. Plaintiffs sued Metson for one additional day of premium pay per hitch, based on their working seven consecutive days in a workweek, and additional compensation for the 12 hours they were on call during the 14-day hitches. The trial court granted summary judgment to Metson, but the Court of Appeal reversed, holding that Metson had violated Labor Code § 510 by not paying the employees incremental overtime compensation for one additional day of every 14-day hitch they worked. The Court further held the employees were entitled to be compensated for four (but not 12) hours of standby time during each 24-hour working day. See also Sonic-Calabasas A, Inc. v. Moreno, 51 Cal.4th 659 (2011) (employee’s waiver in arbitration agreement of right to file a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner is contrary to public policy and is unconscionable).