Thursday, July 5, 2018
Manager Who Paid Wages to Himself Entitled to Wage Statements—C.A.
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The manager of a Burbank motel who was paid $1,000 each month by check, kept track of his own hours, and paid himself the balance of what he was owed, under agreement with the owners, from the cash drawer, was entitled to wage statements for each pay period, this district’s Court of Appeal has said.
The unpublished opinion, filed Monday, was written by Presiding Justice Frances Rothschild of Div. One.
The plaintiff in the case, former Econo Inn resident manager Bhikabhai Patel, worked at the motel starting around 2002, but entered an employment agreement in 2010 with the owners, one of whom is Patel’s brother-in-law. After about five years, Patel quit and left the motel, where he lived, without informing his employers, proceeding to sue them for several Labor Code violations.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Donna Fields Goldstein awarded judgment to the defendants on all counts, finding Patel not to be credible. The plaintiff appealed from the denial of waiting time penalties and the failure to provide accurate wage statements.
The appellate panel reversed the judgment on the wage statement cause of action.
Knowing and Intentional
The defendants argued to be in violation of Labor Code §226, it must be shown that a failure to provide accurate wage statements was committed knowingly and intentionally. They argued that it was Patel, alone, who knew how much was paid and it was up to him to prepare the statements.
“Under section 226, subdivision (a), the burden to comply with the statute falls upon the employer, not the employee. Defendants, however, placed the burden of compliance with section 226 on plaintiff—defendants agreed to the arrangement in which they paid part of plaintiffs wages by check and then plaintiff separately and at various times during the month paid himself the other part of his wages in cash from the Inn’s receipts. Defendants owed plaintiff complete and accurate wage statements for each of these distinct pay periods.”
“And although some of the information required to be included in those wage statements was in possession of plaintiff, defendants were in regular contact with plaintiff until he left his employment, and, thus, they had the opportunity to require plaintiff to provide the information necessary to generate the statutorily required wage statements both for his wages paid by check and for the separate wages paid in cash. Based on the evidence as described in the statement of decision, it does not appear that defendants ever asked plaintiff to provide the information or that plaintiff ever refused to do so.”
Delayed Final Wages
As for the waiting time penalties, pursuant to Labor Code §202, Rothschild agreed with Goldstein that Patel himself had relinquished any right to those.
“Plaintiff left his job without notice and without providing contact information or a forwarding address, and, thus, defendants did not know where to send his final wages,” she explained.
While Patel claimed that this was an improper application of the unclean hands doctrine, Rothschild noted that Goldstein was simply applying the statutory rule. She noted that the language of the Labor Code itself denies the waiting time penalties to any employee who “secretes or absents himself or herself,” and that Patel had done just that.
The case is Patel v. Vaghashia, B282548.
Patel was represented by Mandeep Rupal of Chino Hills. The defendants were represented by Robyn McKibbin, a partner at Stone Dean LLP in Woodland Hills.
Copyright 2018, Metropolitan News Company