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Overton v. Walt Disney Company: Disney’s Class Action Defense Prevails – Disney Not Required To Compensate Employees For Time Spent Riding Shuttle From Parking Lot To Theme Park California Court Holds

California Court Holds that Disney did not Require Employees to Drive to Work and to Take Shuttle from Parking Lot to Work, So Disney was not Required to Compensate Them for Travel Time Spent Riding Shuttle

A Disney employee filed a putative class action against the company seeking compensation under California state law for travel time based on the theory that certain employees were assigned to a parking lot located one mile from the Disneyland theme park, and Disney provided shuttles to transport them between the parking lot and the park. Overton v. Walt Disney Co., 136 Cal.App.4thh 263 (Cal.App. 2006). The class action defense attorneys argued that the California Supreme Court opinion in Morillion v. Royal Packing Co., 22 Cal.4th 575 (Cal. 2000) – which held that if an employer requires employees to travel in a company vehicle to work then it must compensate the employees for their travel time – did not apply. The defense moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the undisputed evidence established that Disney did not require employees to drive to work (and, in fact, encouraged and offered financial incentives to employees who used alternative means of transportation), and that Disney did not require employees to use the shuttle to travel from the parking lot to the theme park (some employees, for example, would walk or ride a bike). Overton, at 267-68. The trial court granted the defense motion for summary judgment and plaintiff’s lawyer appealed.

The appellate court affirmed. “[T]he key factor is whether Disney required its employees who were assigned parking in the [Disney parking] lot to park there and take the shuttle. Quite obviously, Disney did not.” Overton, at 271. The Court rejected class action plaintiff’s effort to manufacture “evidence” to the contrary. The only requirement Disney gave its employees was that if they drove to work then they were required to park in their assigned parking lot. Id., at 271-72.

Finally, the Court found plaintiff’s proposed “solution” of moving the time clock from Disneyland to the parking lot to be wholly unworkable for a wide range of reasons. The most obvious reason is that those employees who took alternative transportation to work would, under plaintiff’s plan, be required to get from Disneyland to their assigned parking lot, and Disney would be required to compensate employees for waiting for the next shuttle and riding to theme the park, or for walking or biking from the parking lot to the park. Overton, at 273-74. The Court outlined the series of restrictions Disney would have to place on all its employees just to accommodate the plaintiff’s issue. Id., at 274.

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