Supreme Court rules California labor laws do not apply on outer continental shelf
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Supreme Court rules California labor laws do not apply on outer continental shelf

The US Supreme Court ruled Monday that under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, where federal law applies, state law will not be adopted.

A California drilling platform worker, Brian Newton, filed suit claiming that under California law, he was entitled to pay for both his shift time and his time on standby. Newton pointed to a provision of OCSLA that declares that adjacent state laws will be considered federal law where “applicable and not inconsistent.” Newton is generally expected to work a 12-hour shift and 12 hours on standby. Newton is compensated well above minimum wage for his shift time, but is not currently compensated for his standby time.

In a unanimous opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas, the court ruled that where federal law applies, state law will not become surrogate federal law under OCSLA. The court then addressed Newton’s claims specifically and said that the Fair Labor Standards Act applies and provides a wage-and-hour scheme. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act there is no compensation for time spent on an employers’ property and so any claims based on California law fail. The case was remanded to the court of appeals to address Newton’s other claims.