Posts from November 2011.

In a partially published and partially unpublished decision in Fuentes v. AutoZone, Inc., the California Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment for alleged sexual harassment damages of $160,000.00 against the two alleged harassers and against the employer and affirmed the trial court's award of $677,025.00 in attorney's fees and $23,898.76 for a total award of $860,923.76.  The Court of Appeal rejected AutoZone's argument that the verdict was not supported by substantial evidence and rejected AutoZone's argument that the attorney's fees award was inflated.  

California's Prevailing Wage Law (Labor Code sections 1720-1861) generally requires that persons employed on Public Works be paid "not less than the general prevailing rate of per diem wages for work of a similar character in the locality in which the public work is performed" as determined by the Director of the Department of Industrial Relations."Public works" is broadly defined to include "[c]onstruction, alternation, demolition, installation, or repair work done under contract and paid for in whole or in part of of public funds."  The term "prevailing wages" is not synonymous with average or market wage rates for a particular kind of work in a given local.  "Prevailing wages" are typically union scale wages regardless of whether such wages are typically paid in a given market on non public works projects. For example, the general prevailing wage for a tree trimmer who works above ground is currently $27.49 per hour.  Prevailing wage determinations for various trades can be viewed here

On October 9, 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 469, sponsored by State Assembly Member Sandre R Swanson (Dem. Oakland), which will be known as the "Wage Theft Prevention Act of 2011." Effective January 1, 2012, the Wage Theft Prevention Act of 2011 will, among other things, subject California employers to new notice and record keeping requirements and to additional penalties for failing to comply with various provisions of the California Labor Code. Some of the coming changes are as follows: 

As we previously reported here, on July 22, 2008, in Brinker v. Superior Court, the Court of Appeal held that while an employer is required to "provide" to non-exempt employees at least one unpaid, duty-free meal period of at least 30 minutes each workday of more than 6 hours, the obligation to "provide" required meal  periods means to make the required meal periods available and not to ensure that employees take all required meal periods. This was good news for employers and especially good news to numerous employers defending against claims of alleged meal period violations. 

As we previously reported herethe consequences of misclassifying a worker as an independent contractor who should have been classified as a non-exempt hourly employee can be substantial. For example, if, because of misclassifying a worker as an independent contractor, the business failed to provide the worker with required meal and rest periods, failed to pay the worker for all hours worked, failed to pay premium pay for overtime hours, and/or failed to provide properly itemized wage statements, the business could become liable for substantial damages for unpaid wages, for various civil penalties, and for attorney's fees. 

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