Case Brief - Brewer v. Patel (1993)
20 Cal.App.4th 1017

Main Issue:
What hours must an Resident Apartment Manager receive compensation?

The employee was entitled to be paid for time he actually provided services, not all hours spent at the complex (time off, sleeping, watching tv, etc.)

Patel owns a 25-unit motel known as the Fortuna Motor Lodge. Brewer worked at the motel for a two-year period beginning in September 1989. Brewer's primary responsibility was as an office clerk; he answered the motel telephone and checked guests in and out of their rooms. However, appellant also assisted with other tasks at the motel such as cleaning the grounds, doing laundry, and cleaning the rooms. In exchange for this work, appellant received a salary which started at $750 per month and eventually increased to $1,150 per month. If appellant worked a seventh day in any week, he received an additional day's pay. Appellant was also given free living quarters: a one bedroom apartment connected to the motel office.

Appellant's duties at the motel required, on average, less than five hours a day to perform. However, appellant was also required to keep the motel office open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, and he was generally expected to remain on the motel premises 24 hours a day. Appellant could leave the motel if he wished, but he had to let respondent know so that respondent or someone else could take his place. When appellant was not actually working, he could relax in his apartment, watch television, or attend to his own personal needs.

The primary issue in this case is the correct interpretation of a regulation which sets forth rules governing how resident managers of apartment houses and motels must be paid. The Labor Commissioner, who represents appellant on appeal interprets this language to mean that Brewer was entitled to compensation for the entire time he spent at the motel, less certain allowances for sleep time and meals. Patel interprets Wage Order No. 5 to mean that Brewer was entitled to compensation only for the time he actually worked.
The court agreed with Patel and denied any further recovery from Brewer.

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