The Retail Litigation Center (“RLC”) submitted an amicus letter to the Supreme Court of California supporting a petition for review of a series of lower court holdings that have imposed super-minimum wage burdens upon California employers. The case in question, Gonzalez v Downtown LA Motors L.P., is the latest in a series of decisions by California’s lower courts that have been marked by novel interpretations of the minimum wage laws of the California Labor Code and IWC Wage Orders.
The Gonzalez case turns on whether minimum wage statutes in the state require that workers compensated on commission or piece-rate schedules are also owed a separate, hourly minimum wage for time spent waiting and performing other work-related tasks not directly compensated by their schedules, regardless of how much they are making. In finding that employers are in fact liable for such wages, the Court of Appeals, and other courts upon whose decisions theirs rest, has imposed unwieldy time-reporting obligations on employers and employees alike that will not, in fact, result in any actual difference in pay.
“The unnecessarily technical interpretations of the minimum wage laws by the lower courts are absurd,” said RLC President Deborah White. “The impractical, judge-created time reporting requirements have served no purpose but to hamper the ability of California businesses to effectively and fairly compensate their hardest working employees.”
According to RLC’s letter to the court:
“This Court has “long recognized” that:
“a court’s ‘overriding purpose’ in construing a statute is ‘to give the statute a reasonable construction conforming to [the Legislature’s] intent …’ ” ” The court will apply common sense to the language at hand and interpret the statute to make it workable and reasonable.”
“The holding in Gonzalez and the cases relied on by Gonzalez violate these sound principles in countless ways, by unreasonably construing the minimum wage law in an impractical and technical way, which upon application would result in…absurdity. For example:
- They lead to absurd results, such as the California District Court’s conclusion in Cardenas v McLane FoodServices Inc. … that truck drivers earning an average of $75,000 per year are not being paid minimum wage under California Law.”
The full letter can be found HERE. The brief was drafted by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP Attorney John S. Battenfeld.
The Retail Litigation Center is a public policy organization that identifies and engages in legal proceedings which affect the retail industry. The RLC, whose members include some of the country’s largest retailers, was formed to provide courts with retail industry perspectives on significant legal issues, and highlight the potential industry-wide consequences of legal principles that may be determined in pending cases.