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DFEH Charge Does Not Toll Statute of Limitations Under the Labor Code

In Statutes of Limitation on October 19, 2010 at 12:30 pm
Caltrans Ama 3
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The Court of Appeal for the Second District held that a “DFEH complaint will [not] toll the statute on a claim for unpaid wages under the Labor Code.”  Parvizian v. California Department of Transportation, No. B215608, 2010 WL 4012070 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Oct. 14, 2010).

Background

Plaintiff-appellant Syrus Parvizian brought a suit against his former employer, respondent State of California Department of Transportation (“DOT”).  Id. *1.  The operative first amended complaint brought six causes of action, titled Damages for Violation of Statutory Duty to Pay Wages and Compensation, Unpaid Wages, Accounting, Conversion, Money Had and Received, and Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation in Violation of Government Code section 12940.  Id. DOT’s demurrer was sustained with leave to amend as to the causes of action for Damages of Violation of the Statutory Duty to Pay Wages and Compensation, Accounting, Conversion, and Money Had and Received.  Id. The court ruled that the claims were not properly pled, noting that “the state can only be sued if it authorizes a lawsuit, and you don’t plead the proper statutory authority to do so.”  Id. The court overruled the demurrer to the cause of action for unpaid wages, which was brought under Labor Code sections 201 and 202. Id. The court found that the cause of action for violation of Government Code section 12940 had been dismissed with prejudice in the earlier case, and sustained the demurrer as to that cause of action without leave to amend. Id. Plaintiff elected not to amend his complaint, and DOT filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings on the cause of action under the Labor Code, on the defense of statute of limitations.  Id. The court granted the motion and dismissed the complaint. Id.

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One Year Statute of Limitations Applies to Waiting Time Penalty Claim Where Wages Not Sought

In Statutes of Limitation, Waiting Time Penalties on August 9, 2010 at 3:12 pm
Wait Time = Batman
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Hon. Howard R. Lloyd today issued an unpublished opinion today confirming that a one year statute of limitations pursuant to Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 340(a) applies to a plaintiff’s claim for waiting time penalties.  Pinheiro v. ACXIOM Information Security Services, Inc., 2010 WL 3058081 (N.D. Cal. August 03, 2010) (Slip Op.)

Plaintiff argued that a three year statute of limiations applied, citing Cortez v. Purolator Air Filtration Products Co., 23 Cal.4th 163, 999 P.2d 706, 96 Cal.Rptr.2d 518 (2000), in which the plaintiff sought both unpaid wages and waiting time penalties.  The court rejected this argument and granted defendant’s motion to dismiss this claim without leave to amend.

Plaintiff Carla Pinheiro was an employee of defendant Aerotek, Inc. (Aerotek), an employment agency. She alleges that she was assigned to work as a temporary customer service representative for defendant Quest Diagnostics Clinical Laboratories, Inc. (Quest). The gravamen of Pinheiro’s complaint as to Aerotek is that Aerotek wrongfully terminated her employment (Sixth Claim for Relief) and failed to timely pay her final wages in violation of California Labor Code sections 201-203 (Seventh Claim for Relief). Plaintiff also asserts a claim against Aerotek under California Bus. & Prof.Code section 17200 (Eighth Claim for Relief) based upon the alleged failure to timely pay her final wages.

Aerotek moved to dismiss Pinheiro’s seventh and eighth claims for relief concerning the alleged failure to timely pay her final wages.

The Court found that, based upon the law as it currently stands, plaintiff’s seventh and eighth claims for relief as to Aerotek should be dismissed.

Cal. Labor Code §§ 201-203 COA

At issue was whether Pinheiro’s claim for waiting time penalties is subject to a one-year statute of limitations (Aerotek’s view) or to a three-year limitations period (Pinheiro’s position). The court held that the one-year statute of limitations under Cal.Code Civ. Proc. § 340(a) applies, and plaintiff’s seventh claim for relief therefore is time-barred. See McCoy v.Super. Ct., 157 Cal.App.4th 225, 68 Cal.Rptr.3d 483 (2008) (holding that in action seeking only waiting time penalties, and not wages, the one-year statute of limitations under Cal.Code Civ. Proc. § 340(a) applies). Cf. Ross v. U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n, Case No. C07-02951 SI, 2008 WL 4447713 *4 (N.D. Cal., Sept. 30, 2008) (concluding that the three-year statute of limitations period under Cal. Labor Code § 203 applied where plaintiff sought unpaid wages, as well as waiting time penalties). Plaintiff’s cited authority, Cortez v. Purolator Air Filtration Products Co., 23 Cal.4th 163, 999 P.2d 706, 96 Cal.Rptr.2d 518 (2000), in which the plaintiff sought both unpaid wages and waiting time penalties, but the Court held that this “does not compel a contrary conclusion.”

Cal. Bus. & Prof.Code § 17200 COA

The court held that remedies under California Labor Code § 203 are penalties, and not restitution, and therefore cannot be recovered under the UCL. In re Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Wage & Hour Litig., 505 F.Supp.2d 609, 619 (N.D. Cal.2007); Tomlinson v. Indymac Bank, F.S.B., 359 F.Supp.2d 891, 895 (C.D. Cal.2005).  The court dismissed the 17200 claim as to Aerotek without leave to amend.

Alison Marie Miceli, Michael James Grace, and Graham Stephen Paul Hollis for Plaintiff.

Jonathan Morris Brenner, Caroline McIntyre, and Alison P. Danaceau for Defendants

By CHARLES H. JUNG

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