California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

2700. Nonpayment of Wages - Essential Factual Elements (Lab. Code, §§ 201, 202, 218)

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2700.Nonpayment of Wages—Essential Factual Elements (Lab.
Code, §§ 201, 202, 218)
[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant] owes [him/her] unpaid
wages. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the
1. That [name of plaintiff] performed work for [name of defendant];
2. That [name of defendant] owes [name of plaintiff] wages under the
terms of the employment; and
3. The amount of unpaid wages.
“Wages” includes all amounts for labor performed by an employee,
whether the amount is calculated by time, task, piece, commission, or
some other method.
New September 2003; Revised December 2005, December 2013, June 2015
Directions for Use
This instruction is for use in a civil action for payment of wages. Depending on the
allegations in the case, the definition of “wages” may be modified to include
additional compensation, such as earned vacation, nondiscretionary bonuses, or
severance pay.
Wage and hour claims are governed by two sources of authority: the provisions of
the Labor Code and a series of 18 wage orders, adopted by the Industrial Welfare
Commission. All of the wage orders define hours worked as “the time during which
an employee is subject to the control of an employer, and includes all the time the
employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.” (See,
e.g., Wage Order 4, subd. 2(K).) The two parts of the definition are independent
factors, each of which defines whether certain time spent is compensable as “hours
worked.” Thus, an employee who is subject to an employer’s control does not have
to be working during that time to be compensated. Courts have identified various
factors bearing on an employer’s control during on-call time. However, what
qualifies as hours worked is a question of law. (Mendiola v. CPS Security Solutions,
Inc. (2015) 60 Cal.4th 833, 838–840 [182 Cal.Rptr.3d 124, 340 P.3d 355].)
Therefore, the jury should not be instructed on the factors to consider in
determining whether the employer has exercised sufficient control over the
employee during the contested period to require compensation.
However, the jury should be instructed to find any disputed facts regarding the
factors. For example, one factor is whether a fixed time limit for the employee to
respond to a call was unduly restrictive. Whether there was a fixed time limit
would be a disputed fact for the jury. Whether it was unduly restrictive would be a
matter of law for the court.
The court may modify this instruction or write an appropriate instruction if the
defendant employer claims a permissible setoff from the plaintiff employee’s
unpaid wages. Under California Wage Orders, an employer may deduct from an
employee’s wages for cash shortage, breakage, or loss of equipment if the employer
proves that this was caused by a dishonest or willful act or by the gross negligence
of the employee. (See, e.g., Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 11010, subd. 8.)
Sources and Authority
• Right of Action for Wage Claim. Labor Code section 218.
Wages Due on Discharge. Labor Code section 201.
• Wages Due on Quitting. Labor Code section 202.
• “Wages” Defined, Labor Code section 200.
• Wages Partially in Dispute. Labor Code section 206(a).
• Deductions From Pay. Labor Code section 221, California Code of Regulations,
Title 8, section 11010, subdivision 8.
• Nonapplicability to Government Employers. Labor Code section 220
• Employer Not Entitled to Release. Labor Code section 206.5.
• Private Agreements Prohibited. Labor Code section 219(a).
• “As an employee, appellant was entitled to the benefit of wage laws requiring
an employer to promptly pay all wages due, and prohibiting the employer from
deducting unauthorized expenses from the employee’s wages, deducting for
debts due the employer, or recouping advances absent the parties’ express
agreement.” (Davis v. Farmers Ins. Exchange (2016) 245 Cal.App.4th 1302,
1330 [200 Cal.Rptr.3d 315].)
• “The Labor Code’s protections are ‘designed to ensure that employees receive
their full wages at specified intervals while employed, as well as when they are
fired or quit,’ and are applicable not only to hourly employees, but to highly
compensated executives and salespeople.” (Davis, supra, 245 Cal.App.4th at p.
1331, internal citation omitted.)
• “[W]ages include not just salaries earned hourly, but also bonuses, profit-sharing
plans, and commissions.” (Davis, supra, 245 Cal.App.4th at p. 1332, fn. 20.)
• “[A]n employee’s on-call or standby time may require compensation.”
(Mendiola, supra, 60 Cal.4th at p. 840.)
• “[Labor Code] section 221 has long been held to prohibit deductions from an
employee’s wages for cash shortages, breakage, loss of equipment, and other
business losses that may result from the employee’s simple negligence.”
(Hudgins v. Neiman Marcus Group, Inc. (1995) 34 Cal.App.4th 1109, 1118 [41
Cal.Rptr.2d 46].)
• “[A]n employer is not entitled to a setoff of debts owing it by an employee
against any wages due that employee.” (Barnhill v. Robert Saunders & Co.
(1981) 125 Cal.App.3d 1, 6 [177 Cal.Rptr. 803].)
Secondary Sources
3 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Agency and Employment,
§§ 398, 399
Chin et al., California Practice Guide: Employment Litigation, Ch.1-A,
Background, ¶ 1:22 (The Rutter Group)
Chin et al., California Practice Guide: Employment Litigation, Ch. 11-B, Coverage
And Exemptions—In General, ¶ 11:121 (The Rutter Group)
Chin et al., California Practice Guide: Employment Litigation, Ch.11-D, Payment
Of Wages, ¶¶ 11:456, 11:470, 11:470.1, 11:512–11.514 (The Rutter Group)
Chin et al., California Practice Guide: Employment Litigation, Ch.11-J, Enforcing
California Laws Regulating Employee Compensation, ¶ 11:1459 (The Rutter Group)
1 Wilcox, California Employment Law, Ch. 5, Administrative and Judicial
Remedies Under Wage and Hour Laws, § 5.40 (Matthew Bender)
21 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 250, Employment Law: Wage
and Hour Disputes, §§ 250.13[1][a], 250.40[3][a], 250.65 (Matthew Bender)
California Civil Practice: Employment Litigation §§ 4:67, 4:75 (Thomson Reuters)