State laws regarding wages and work hours are complex by nature — but even more so for multi-state employees. A case heard by the California Court of Appeals illustrates this complexity. At the core of the case is the question of whether California’s wage and hour laws apply to out-of-state employers when their employees perform their work in California.
A California class action lawsuit
A proposed class action lawsuit was filed by three employees with a claim that their employers violated California law regarding overtime, minimum wage, rest and meal breaks, providing accurate wage statements, and maintaining accurate work records. The employers asked for a summary judgment, stating that California law did not apply. A trial court denied the motion for summary judgment.
The complications of multi-state employment
The employers in the case were all LLCs formed in Louisiana; the employees lived in Louisiana and accepted job offers there. The employees flew to California to work on a maintenance vessel that services offshore oil platforms outside of California jurisdiction. However, the vessel was docked in a California port and passed through the Santa Barbara channel.
Based on these facts, the Court of Appeals initially decided that California law did not apply because Louisiana had a greater stake in regulating these employment relationships. After the California Court of Appeals made the decision, the California Supreme Court heard two more similar cases.
The relevance of work location
All of the cases concerned how California wage and hour law applied to employers and employees who performed work both in California and other states. The consensus of the California Supreme Court was that employees can seek protection under California wage and hour laws if the employees perform their work in California. In light of that decision, the Court of Appeals decided that its prior decision in the Louisiana employment case was not correct. The state where employees perform their work is the most relevant to the case.
These matters highlight the potential for complexity in employment law. Remember, California law offers some of the strongest employee protections in the world. If you believe your employer in California has violated your rights or deprived you of your rightful pay, discuss your concerns with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible. Depending on the facts of the case, you may be entitled to significant compensation.