California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

2701. Nonpayment of Minimum Wage - Essential Factual Elements (Lab. Code, § 1194)

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant] owes [him/her] the difference between the wages paid by [name of defendant] and the wages [name of plaintiff] should have been paid according to the minimum wage rate required by state law. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1. That [name of plaintiff] performed work for [name of defendant];

2. That [name of plaintiff] was paid less than the minimum wage by [name of defendant] for some or all hours worked; and

3. The amount of wages owed.

The minimum wage for labor performed from [beginning date] to [ending date] was [minimum wage rate] per hour.

An employee is entitled to be paid the legal minimum wage rate even if he or she agrees to work for a lower wage.

Directions for Use

The court must determine the prevailing minimum wage rate from applicable state or federal law. (See, e.g., Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 11000.) The jury must be instructed accordingly.

The advisory committee has chosen not to write model instructions for the numerous fact-specific affirmative defenses to minimum wage claims. The California Labor Code and the IWC's wage orders provide that certain employees are exempt from minimum wage requirements (for example, outside salespersons; see Lab. Code, § 1171), and that under certain circumstances employers may claim credits for meals and lodging against minimum wage pay (see Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 11000, subd. 3, § 11010, subd. 10, and § 11150, subd. 10(B)). The assertion of an exemption from wage and hour laws is an affirmative defense. (See generally Ramirez v. Yosemite Water Co. (1999) 20 Cal.4th 785, 794 [85 Cal.Rptr.2d 844, 978 P.2d 2].)

Sources and Authority

Labor Code section 1194(a) provides: "Notwithstanding any agreement to work for a lesser wage, any employee receiving less than the legal minimum wage or the legal overtime compensation applicable to the employee is entitled to recover in a civil action the unpaid balance of the full amount of this minimum wage or overtime compensation, including interest thereon, reasonable attorney's fees, and costs of suit."

Labor Code section 1194.2 provides, in part: (a) In any action under . . . Section 1194 to recover wages because of the payment of a wage less than the minimum wage, . . . an employee shall be entitled to recover liquidated damages in an amount equal to the wages unlawfully unpaid and interest thereon. Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to authorize the recovery of liquidated damages for failure to pay overtime compensation.

(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), if the employer demonstrates to the satisfaction of the court that the act or omission giving rise to the action was in good faith and that the employer had reasonable grounds for believing that the act or omission was not a violation of any provision of the Labor Code relating to minimum wage, or an order of the commission, the court may, in its discretion, refuse to award liquidated damages or award any amount of liquidated damages not exceeding the amount specified in subdivision (a).

Labor Code section 200 defines "wages" as including "all amounts for labor performed by employees of every description, whether the amount is fixed or ascertained by the standard of time, task, piece, commission basis, or other method of calculation. . . . [¶] 'Labor' includes labor, work, or service whether rendered or performed under contract, subcontract, partnership, station plan, or other agreement if the labor to be paid for is performed personally by the person demanding payment."

Labor Code section 206(a) provides: "In case of a dispute over wages, the employer shall pay, without condition and within the time set by this article, all wages, or parts thereof, conceded by him to be due, leaving to the employee all remedies he might otherwise be entitled to as to any balance claimed."

Labor Code section 1193.6(a) provides, in part: "The department or division may, with or without the consent of the employee or employees affected, commence and prosecute a civil action to recover unpaid minimum wages or unpaid overtime compensation. . . . The consent of any employee to the bringing of this action shall constitute a waiver on the part of the employee of his or her cause of action under Section 1194 unless the action is dismissed without prejudice by the department or the division."

Labor Code section 1173 provides, in part: "It is the continuing duty of the Industrial Welfare Commission . . . to ascertain the wages paid to all employees in this state, [and] to ascertain the hours and conditions of labor and employment in the various occupations, trades, and industries in which employees are employed in this state. . . .[¶] The commission shall conduct a full review of the adequacy of the minimum wage at least once every two years."

Secondary Sources

2 Witkin, Summary of California Law (9th ed. 1987) Agency and Employment, §§ 330, 335, pp. 321-322, 327-329; id. (2002 supp.) at §§ 330, 335, pp. 325-327, 341-343

1 Wilcox, California Employment Law, Ch. 2, Minimum Wages, §§ 2.02[1], 2.03[1], 2.04[1], 2.05[1], 2.20[1], 2.21[1]; Ch. 5, Administrative and Judicial Remedies Under Wage and Hour Laws, § 5.72 (Matthew Bender)

21 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 250, Employment Law: Wage and Hour Disputes, §§ 250.13[1][a], 250.14[d] (Matthew Bender)

Bancroft-Whitney's California Civil Practice: Employment Litigation (1993) Wage and Hour, §§ 4:67, 4:77, pp. 51, 56

(Revised June 2005)