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California Supreme Court Clarifies Application of California Wage Rules to Employees Working in More Than One State

July 8, 2020 by

In companion cases involving application of the California labor code to the airline industry, the California Supreme Court has clarified how two important sections of the Labor Code apply to employees who perform work both in and out of California. (Ward v. UAL, and Oman v. Delta (6/29/20)).

The two Code sections addressed are Labor Code Sections 204 and 226. Section 204 guarantees employees full payment on a semimonthly basis, providing: “All wages earned by any person in any employment are due and payable twice during each calendar month, on days designated in advance by the employer as the regular paydays.” Section 226 requires an employer, semi-monthly or at the time of each payment of wages to furnish employees with each wage payment “an accurate itemized statement in writing” disclosing nine categories of information, including the pay period, hours worked, applicable hourly rates, gross and net wages earned, and any deductions taken.

Plaintiffs in these cases are pilots and stewards who spend the bulk of their work time in the air, and who travel from state to state throughout their employment. The Court in these cases set out rules to determine when Sections 204 and 226 apply to such transient employees.

The Court ruled that, for Sections 204 and 226, workers are covered if they perform the majority of their work in California; but if they do not perform the majority of their work in any one state, they will be covered if they are based for work purposes in California. The Court explained the concept of being “based” in California as follows: “For interstate transportation workers and others who do not work more than half the time in any one state, we conclude this principle will be satisfied if the worker performs some work here and is based in California, meaning that California serves as the physical location where the worker presents himself or herself to begin work.”

The rules set forth here do not necessarily apply to other provisions of the Labor Code, but they do apply to all employees who spend some time working in California and some time working in another state, regardless of the industry.

The cases can be found here: Ward v. UAL, Oman v. Delta

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