Painter Who Carried Equipment in His Truck not Entitled to Compensation

August 26, 2010 ( – A painter is not entitled to compensation for time he spent commuting to job sites, even though he carried his employer’s equipment in his truck, a court has ruled.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington found that the equipment Leonard Kerr transported does not transform his direct commuting time into compensable time because the vast majority of the equipment he carried was light; there is no evidence that the equipment Kerr carried transformed the nature of his commute; and he was not required to do anything with the equipment he carried once he left his job for the day. The court granted summary judgment to Kerr’s employer, Sturtz Finishes, on his claim under the Fair Labor Standard Act relating to carrying the equipment. 

For the same reasons, the court also granted summary judgment to Sturtz on claims under Washington’s Minimum Wage Act.  

The court noted that regulations implementing FLSA say “walking, riding, or traveling to and from the actual place of performance of the principal activity or activities which [an] employee is required to perform” is not compensable, but also say that in certain circumstances, employees forced to carry their employer’s equipment are entitled to compensation. However, the illustration the regulations use is “the carrying by a logger of a portable power saw or other heavy equipment (as distinguished from ordinary hand tools) on his trip into the woods to the cutting area.”  

According to the opinion, there are also disputes about time Kerr spent driving between job sites and the Sturtz office, between job sites and painting supply stores, between job sites and the homes of employees that Sturtz required him to transport, drive time in a van that Sturtz provided, and occasions on which Kerr was required to haul a Sturtz trailer, but those disputes have not been addressed.  

The opinion is here.