The California Court of Appeal has ruled, in Ward v. Tilly’s, Inc., that a 75-year-old state work order’s phrase “report to work” also includes telephone call-ins to inquire whether or not to physically show up for a shift that day.

california-flagThe phrase appears in California Industrial Welfare Commission’s (IWC) Wage Order 7 and mandates that when employees “report to work” but are not then required to perform any work, they are owed at least two hours but not more than four hours of pay.

Tilly’s, a clothing retailer, maintained two types of shifts — scheduled and on-call, the latter of which required employees to call in to see if they were needed that day for an extra shift.

The lawsuit was brought by Skylar Ward, a Tilly’s employee who was routinely asked to call in to see if the company needed her to work a shift that day. She seized on the 1943 work order and its phrase “report to work” and sued for back pay. The trial court sided with Tilly’s, reasoning that “report to work” requires one’s physical presence.

The Court of Appeal, however, held that “report to work” now includes the requirement to call in to see if one is needed at work. The vote by the three-judge panel was 2-1.

A similar case, Herrera v. Zurniez, Inc., is currently before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.