In two recent cases (Oman v. Delta Airlines and Ward v. United Airlines), the California Supreme Court has answered important, unresolved questions regarding the application of California labor law to employees who only sometimes work in the state of California, such as airline workers. These opinions essentially clarify the circumstances under which employees such as airline workers who only occasionally work in California are entitled to the protection of this state’s wage and hour laws.
What These Decisions Mean
Under California Labor Code Section 226, an employee is entitled to a Section 226 itemized wage statement and protections establishing certain deadlines for twice-monthly pay if that employee either performs the majority of his or her work during that particular pay period in California or if the employee does not perform the majority of that work in any particular state, but is based in California for work purposes. Other factors that could play a part in this regard include the employee’s place of residence, the employer’s location, the location where the employee receives his or her pay, and the state where the employee or employer files their respective tax returns.
However, there are some unresolved questions such as when employees are required to be paid California-compliant wages. The decisions on Oman and Ward continue the trend of applying California law to every employer that is operating in the state. These decisions also open the door to apply California’s substantive wage law protections even to employees who only sometimes work in this state.
Understanding Your Rights
Both those cases have their roots in several class-action lawsuits brought by pilots and cabin crew alleging that their employers failed to issue them Section 226 wage statements and failed to pay minimum wage for all hours worked. Many also alleged that they were not paid wages in a timely manner. The high court essentially clarified that California’s wage statement requirements do apply to employees who do not perform a majority of their work in any single state but perform some work in California and California serves as a base for their work operations.
So, what do these decisions mean for employers and employees? It means that going forward, interstate carriers doing business in California and other employers such as airlines that have employees working interstate, should reevaluate their pay practices in light of these two cases to make sure they comply with the state’s wage statement and timing-of-pay laws.
If you are an employee who believes that your employer has not paid you due wages or that your employer has failed to pay your wages on time, you may be able to seek compensation under California’s wage and hour laws. An experienced California employment attorney can help you better understand your legal rights and options.