Lauren E. Stahl


Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), employers risk receiving wage and hour violations if they fail to compensate employees for all “hours worked” or fail to adhere to minimum wage and overtime requirements. The de minimis doctrine provides an exception to this general rule and excuses employers from compensating employees for insignificant amounts of time spent on otherwise compensable off-the-clock work activities. Examples of de minimis off-the-clock work activities include waiting for a computer to load or waiting to log onto a computer network. These activities are considered de minimis because they take only a minute or less, and under the doctrine, employees cannot receive compensation for such trivial amounts of time under the FLSA. Employers must also comply with state wage orders and labor codes, which may provide higher protections than the FLSA. Because of the differences in worker protections, the de minimis doctrine’s application will differ from an off-theclock claim brought under the FLSA versus state wage and hour laws. In July 2021, Pennsylvania became the second state—after California—to refuse to apply the de minimis doctrine in state wage and hour claims. Pennsylvania should not eliminate the de minimis exception under state wage and hour law because (1) the doctrine has utility and roots in Pennsylvania law; (2) other jurisdictions have favorably cited to the doctrine in the realm of wage and employment disputes; and (3) the doctrine helps to create a barrier from unlimited disputes arising against employers.



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