Yesterday, a California appellate court ruled that an employer who fully complied with AB 1513’s safe harbor provision has an affirmative defense against any employee claims for failure to properly compensate piece-rate employees for rest and recovery (“R+R”) and/or other nonproductive time (“Other NPT”) for any time periods prior to and including December 31, 2015, and not just between July 1, 2012-December 31, 2015.

Last week, a California court awarded a former employee $2,250 in waiting time penalties after the employee quit her position and the employer sent her a final check in a timely fashion, but with a single typo. In Nishiki v. Danko Meridith, APC, Taryn Nishiki worked for Defendant Danko Meridith as an office manager and paralegal. Nishiki resigned by sending an email to Defendant on a Friday night after hours. At the time Nishiki resigned, she was owed $2,880.31 for unused vacation (“PTO”) time.

Today, the California Supreme Court dealt a potentially huge blow to employers as it ruled that California wage and hour laws do not support a “de minimis” argument to excuse payments of wages for small amounts of otherwise compensable time upon a showing that capturing that time, typically at the beginning or end of work shifts, is administratively difficult to record. 

Recently, the Labor Commissioner’s Office issued wage theft citations to Vista Santa Rosa, Inc., a large Riverside County farm labor contractor, for failing to provide 1,374 seasonal farmworkers their final pay at time of discharge. The violations came to light after a 2016 Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE”) investigation, spurred by worker complaints to labor watchdog California Rural Legal Assistance. The DLSE found the employer consistently issued final payments at least 3 days late.

In a decision issued this week, the Ninth Circuit upheld a District Court decision in favor of employer Taco Bell—holding that its meal policy requiring employees to stay on site during meal periods when employees purchased a discounted meal was lawful.

In that case, Plaintiffs, individually and as class representatives, challenged Taco Bell’s meal policy, which provided that employees could take an off-duty meal period in accordance with the applicable Wage Order, but that employees could also choose to purchase a discounted meal so long as the employee ate the meal in the restaurant. The policy was enacted to prevent employees from purchasing food for friends and family at the discounted rate and taking it home.

As a quick reminder of just how costly rest and meal break violations can be, on May 8, 2018, a California federal judge awarded $97.28 million to a class of 4,481 home mortgage consultants for Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (“Wells Fargo”) in Ibarra v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. CV 17-4344 PA (ASx), 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78513 (C.D. Cal. May 8, 2018). Divided evenly among the class members, that comes out to roughly $21,710 per person. Though the plaintiffs in this case were granted summary judgment in January, this award came out of a dispute over the method for calculating the damages for rest break violations.

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