July 10, 2020

Key California Employment Law Cases: June 2020

Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020) 

SummaryTitle VII prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Read our in-depth analysis HERE.

Ward v. United Airlines, Inc
., No. S248702, 2020 WL 3495310 (Cal. June 29, 2020)

Summary(1) The exemption in Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order No. 9-2001, section 1(E), for employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement governed by the Railway Labor Act, does not bar a wage statement claim brought under Labor Code section 226. (2) Labor Code section 226 applies to wage statements provided by an employer if the employee’s principal place of work is in California.

Read our in-depth analysis HERE.

Oman v. Delta Air Lines, Inc
., No. S248726, 2020 WL 3527091 (Cal. June 29, 2020)

Summary: (1) Labor Code sections 204 and 226 do not apply to pay periods in which an employee works only episodically and for less than a day at a time in California unless the employee works primarily in California during the pay period, or does not work primarily in any state but has his or her base of operations in California.(2) California’s limits on “wage borrowing” permit compensation schemes that promise to compensate all hours worked at a level that is at or above the minimum wage, even if particular components of those schemes fail to attribute to each and every compensable hour a specific amount equal to or greater than the minimum wage. 

Read our in-depth analysis HERE.

Oliver v. Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc., No. H045069, 2020 WL 3446865 (Cal. Ct. App. June 2, 2020)

SummaryEmployees may be entitled to wages and mileage reimbursement for their commutes to and from work if they are under their employers’ control such that they cannot use the commute time effectively for their own purposes.

Facts: Plaintiffs were service technicians for Konica Minolta (“KM”) who did not report to an office for work. Instead, they were required to drive their personal vehicles, carrying KM tools and parts, directly from their homes to customer sites to make repairs to copiers and other machines. Plaintiffs then drove from their last customer site directly home. KM did not pay Plaintiffs for the time spent commuting either to the first service location of the day or from the last location to their homes, nor reimburse them for mileage attributable to those commutes. Plaintiffs brought a class action seeking wages for these commute times as well as reimbursement for mileage. KM moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted the motion. It found that the commute times at issue did not constitute “hours worked” under Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order No. 4-2001 under either the “control” test or the “suffer or permit to work” test. Having concluded that the commute time was not hours worked, the court determined that Plaintiffs were not entitled to reimbursement for mileage under California Labor Code section 2802. Plaintiffs appealed. 

Court’s Decision: The California Court of Appeal reversed. There was a material factual dispute as to whether the service technicians were precluded from using their commute time effectively for their own purposes, which would constitute control by their employer. There also existed factual disputes as to whether the employees were required to carry KM’s tools and parts during the commute; if carrying the tools and parts was optional, then the service technicians would not be subject to the control of KM. There was also a factual dispute regarding the volume of tools and parts service technicians were required to carry; the volume of such parts and tools would potentially limit the service technicians’ ability to engage in personal pursuits, thus rendering the employees subject to the control of KM. These factual issues precluded summary judgment in favor of KM under the control test. Having found triable issues with respect to the control test, the court did not address the suffer or permit to work test. Similarly, because the court found triable issues regarding Plaintiffs’ entitlement to wages, it likewise found triable issues as to their entitlement to mileage reimbursement under Labor Code section 2802.

Practical Implications: The compensability of commute time remains a frequent source of litigation. Employers whose employees do anything arguably work-related during their commute should carefully review the nature of their employees’ activities and their pay policies to ensure compliance with the ever-growing body of caselaw in this area.