Court Case in Washington Affects Take-Home Vehicles

A ruling by the Supreme Court of the state of Washington may affect how you handle company vehicles.

In a 7-2 ruling on last Thursday, the justices settled a lawsuit that was initiated in 2002 regarding company vehicles and whether employees should be paid for drive time to and from their homes if they had a take-home company vehicle. The lawsuit, which was prompted by about 70 technicians with Brink's Home Security, asked for back pay for that time.

The company's policy when the lawsuit was filed was that security technicians with take-home Brink's Home Security vehicles would not be paid for drive times that were less than 45 minutes to or from their homes. The justices decided that the technicians were indeed owed back pay, and cited the state's minimum wage laws. Also included were attorney's fees and interest.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reported that a lower court had sided in favor of the employees in January 2006, and that Thursday's decision by the state's supreme court reaffirmed that lower court ruling.

In the decision, the justices wrote that, "technicians ... were 'on duty' at a 'prescribed work place' during the drive time."