Can-Your-Employer-Keep-You-On-Call-Without-Pay.jpg (2149×1159)The answer is: It depends. Although it might seem unpleasant to be stuck on call, your employer may not need to compensate you.’ Part of the distinction is the rather unclear “Waiting to be engaged” versus “Engaged to wait” terminology. To put it in simple terms, you are entitled to compensation if any of the following are true:

  1. You are required to be on or near your employer’s premises. In that case, it is the same as a receptionist who has nothing to do between phone calls or visits. Even if your employer allows you to use the time in your own pursuits, you are still “working.”
  2. Your contract or bargaining agreement specifies that you are paid for on call time.
  3. Your employer places restrictions on where you can go or what you can do when you are on call. For example, if your employee expects you to not use your cell phone for other calls so you are able to respond immediately.
  4. You are called frequently – in some cases on-call frequency can be so high that it is equivalent to working. If this happens regularly, you should receive compensation.
  5. You are required to respond immediately. 20-30 minutes is reasonable, if you are expected to answer a page or text right away, then you may well be entitled to compensation.
  6. You are required to wait in a specific location that is not the office. For example, a messenger who has to wait for the client to give them the package is entitled to pay for that time.

There are a few things which have been definitively ruled not to trigger pay.

  1. If you are exempt, then you are not entitled to compensation for on call time (unless your employee has some more generous policy).
  2. A requirement to remain sober has been ruled not to trigger compensation, unless there are significant other restrictions.
  3. Merely having to carry a pager and report within 20-30 minutes has been ruled not to trigger compensation.
  4. If you have the ability to trade off your on-call duties with another employee, this can make it less likely that you are entitled to pay.

California tends to be stricter than other states, and courts are more likely to rule that the employee is “under the control of” the employer.

Once you receive the call, however, you are required to be paid for your travel time and any time worked. Additionally, California has a “reporting time” law which means you are entitled to be paid for half of your usual shift, minimum two hours, if you report to work but work for less time, with two hours for a second call. This does not apply if you are being paid to be on-call, but at a lower rate (which is not uncommon, although the rate still has to be at least minimum wage).

The basic standard, though, is whether you can do other things while on call or whether the restrictions are so burdensome that, for example, making dinner, attending your child’s event or otherwise using your time for yourself become impossible.

Being on call can be a pain, but whether you are entitled to any kind of compensation depends on how much of a pain it is. If you are not sure whether your employer’s demands on you when on call trigger the need for compensation or paid standby, then you should contact an employment lawyer.

Aiman-Smith & Marcy are experienced employment lawyers. We handle all kinds of employment issues such as paid overtime, required breaks and, of course, compensation for time spent on call. If you need our help, then call us for a consultation – or just for advice on whether you have a case against your employer or not.

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986