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SB-1129 Employment: itemized wage statements: violations: actions. (2019-2020)

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Date Published: 02/19/2020 09:00 PM
SB1129:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 1129


Introduced by Senator Dodd

February 19, 2020


An act to amend Sections 226, 226.3, and 2699 of the Labor Code, relating to employment.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 1129, as introduced, Dodd. Employment: itemized wage statements: violations: actions.
Existing law requires an employer, either semimonthly or at the time of each payment of wages, to furnish their employees with an accurate itemized statement showing specified information. Existing law authorizes an employee to recover for a knowing and intentional violation of that provision actual damages, or a specified alternative dollar amount, whichever is greater, and to be awarded costs and attorney’s fees. Existing law authorizes an employee to also bring an action for injunctive relief to ensure compliance with that provision and entitles the employee to an award of costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. Existing law provides for specified civil penalties for violations of itemized wage statements.
This bill would require an employee alleging a violation of itemized wage statement provisions to meet specified requirements before bringing an action against the employer, which would include providing written notice by certified mail to the employer of the alleged violation, including the facts and theories to support the alleged violation, and would allow the employer 65 calendar days of the postmark date of the notice to cure the violation, as specified.
The Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 further provides that, as an alternative to civil penalties being assessed and collected by the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, the civil penalties may be recovered through a civil action brought by an aggrieved employee on behalf of themselves and other employees. The act authorizes an employer to cure specified violations of itemized wage statement requirements, within 33 days of the date of the notice from the aggrieved employee, by making the aggrieved employee whole and providing itemized wage statements for each pay period for the last 3 years.
This bill would expand the types of itemized wage statement violations that an employer could cure and would allow the employer 65 calendar days of the postmark date of the notice to cure the violation, as specified. The bill would also reduce from 3 years to one year the past itemized wage statements that the employer is required to provide in order to cure a violation.
Existing law permits an aggrieved employee, on behalf of themselves and other current or former employees, to bring a civil action pursuant to specified procedures for a violation of a provision of the Labor Code that provides for a civil penalty to be assessed and collected by the Labor and Workforce Development Agency. Existing law authorizes civil penalties of $100 per employee for violation of the above-specified provision for an initial violation and $200 per employee for each subsequent violation.
This bill would limit the amount of penalties that may be recovered to $5,000 if the aggrieved employees did not suffer actual economic or physical harm. The bill would also define the term “violation” for purposes of that provision.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 226 of the Labor Code is amended to read:

226.
 (a) An employer, semimonthly or at the time of each payment of wages, shall furnish to his or her their employee, either as a detachable part of the check, draft, or voucher paying the employee’s wages, or separately if wages are paid by personal check or cash, an accurate itemized statement in writing showing (1) gross wages earned, (2) total hours worked by the employee, except as provided in subdivision (j), (3) the number of piece-rate units earned and any applicable piece rate if the employee is paid on a piece-rate basis, (4) all deductions, provided that all deductions made on written orders of the employee may be aggregated and shown as one item, (5) net wages earned, (6) the inclusive dates of the period for which the employee is paid, (7) the name of the employee and only the last four digits of his or her their social security number or an employee identification number other than a social security number, (8) the name and address of the legal entity that is the employer and, if the employer is a farm labor contractor, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 1682, the name and address of the legal entity that secured the services of the employer, and (9) all applicable hourly rates in effect during the pay period and the corresponding number of hours worked at each hourly rate by the employee and, beginning July 1, 2013, if the employer is a temporary services employer as defined in Section 201.3, the rate of pay and the total hours worked for each temporary services assignment. The deductions made from payment of wages shall be recorded in ink or other indelible form, properly dated, showing the month, day, and year, and a copy of the statement and the record of the deductions shall be kept on file by the employer for at least three years at the place of employment or at a central location within the State of California. For purposes of this subdivision, “copy” includes a duplicate of the itemized statement provided to an employee or a computer-generated record that accurately shows all of the information required by this subdivision.
(b) An employer that is required by this code or any regulation adopted pursuant to this code to keep the information required by subdivision (a) shall afford current and former employees the right to inspect or receive a copy of records pertaining to their employment, upon reasonable request to the employer. The employer may take reasonable steps to ensure the identity of a current or former employee. If the employer provides copies of the records, the actual cost of reproduction may be charged to the current or former employee.
(c) An employer who receives a written or oral request to inspect or receive a copy of records pursuant to subdivision (b) pertaining to a current or former employee shall comply with the request as soon as practicable, but no later than 21 calendar days from the date of the request. A violation of this subdivision is an infraction. Impossibility of performance, not caused by or a result of a violation of law, shall be an affirmative defense for an employer in any action alleging a violation of this subdivision. An employer may designate the person to whom a request under this subdivision will be made.
(d) This section does not apply to any employer of a person employed by the owner or occupant of a residential dwelling whose duties are incidental to the ownership, maintenance, or use of the dwelling, including the care and supervision of children, or whose duties are personal and not in the course of the trade, business, profession, or occupation of the owner or occupant.
(e) (1) An employee suffering injury as a result of a knowing and intentional failure by an employer to comply with subdivision (a) is entitled to recover the greater of all actual damages or fifty dollars ($50) for the initial pay period in which a violation occurs and one hundred dollars ($100) per employee for each violation in a subsequent pay period, not to exceed an aggregate penalty of four thousand dollars ($4,000), and is entitled to an award of costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.
(2) (A) An employee is deemed to suffer injury for purposes of this subdivision if the employer fails to provide a wage statement.
(B) An employee is deemed to suffer injury for purposes of this subdivision if the employer fails to provide accurate and complete information as required by any one or more of items (1) to (9), inclusive, of subdivision (a) and the employee cannot promptly and easily determine from the wage statement alone one or more of the following:
(i) The amount of the gross wages or net wages paid to the employee during the pay period or any of the other information required to be provided on the itemized wage statement pursuant to items (2) to (4), inclusive, (6), and (9) of subdivision (a).
(ii) Which deductions the employer made from gross wages to determine the net wages paid to the employee during the pay period. Nothing in this subdivision alters the ability of the employer to aggregate deductions consistent with the requirements of item (4) of subdivision (a).
(iii) The name and address of the employer and, if the employer is a farm labor contractor, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 1682, the name and address of the legal entity that secured the services of the employer during the pay period.
(iv) The name of the employee and only the last four digits of his or her their social security number or an employee identification number other than a social security number.
(C) For purposes of this paragraph, “promptly and easily determine” means a reasonable person would be able to readily ascertain the information without reference to other documents or information.
(3) For purposes of this subdivision, a “knowing and intentional failure” does not include an isolated and unintentional payroll error due to a clerical or inadvertent mistake. In reviewing for compliance with this section, the factfinder may consider as a relevant factor whether the employer, prior to an alleged violation, has adopted and is in compliance with a set of policies, procedures, and practices that fully comply with this section.
(f) A failure by an employer to permit a current or former employee to inspect or receive a copy of records within the time set forth in subdivision (c) entitles the current or former employee or the Labor Commissioner to recover a seven-hundred-fifty-dollar ($750) penalty from the employer.
(g) The listing by an employer of the name and address of the legal entity that secured the services of the employer in the itemized statement required by subdivision (a) shall not create any liability on the part of that legal entity.
(h) An employee may also bring an action for injunctive relief to ensure compliance with this section, and is entitled to an award of costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.
(i) This section does not apply to the state, to any city, county, city and county, district, or to any other governmental entity, except that if the state or a city, county, city and county, district, or other governmental entity furnishes its employees with a check, draft, or voucher paying the employee’s wages, the state or a city, county, city and county, district, or other governmental entity shall use no more than the last four digits of the employee’s social security number or shall use an employee identification number other than the social security number on the itemized statement provided with the check, draft, or voucher.
(j) An itemized wage statement furnished by an employer pursuant to subdivision (a) shall not be required to show total hours worked by the employee if any of the following apply:
(1) The employee’s compensation is solely based on salary and the employee is exempt from payment of overtime under subdivision (a) of Section 515 or any applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission.
(2) The employee is exempt from the payment of minimum wage and overtime under any of the following:
(A) The exemption for persons employed in an executive, administrative, or professional capacity provided in any applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission.
(B) The exemption for outside salespersons provided in any applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission.
(C) The overtime exemption for computer software professionals paid on a salaried basis provided in Section 515.5.
(D) The exemption for individuals who are the parent, spouse, child, or legally adopted child of the employer provided in any applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission.
(E) The exemption for participants, director, and staff of a live-in alternative to incarceration rehabilitation program with special focus on substance abusers provided in Section 8002 of the Penal Code.
(F) The exemption for any crew member employed on a commercial passenger fishing boat licensed pursuant to Article 5 (commencing with Section 7920) of Chapter 1 of Part 3 of Division 6 of the Fish and Game Code provided in any applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission.
(G) The exemption for any individual participating in a national service program provided in any applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission.
(k) (1) Notwithstanding any other law, an action to recover damages, injunctive relief, statutory penalties, or civil penalties under this section or Section 226.3 for a violation of paragraph (6), (7), or (8) of subdivision (a) shall commence only after the following requirements have been met:
(A) The employee or representative shall give written notice by certified mail to the employer of the alleged violation of subdivision (a), including the facts and theories to support the alleged violation.
(B) The employer may cure the alleged violation within 65 calendar days of the postmark date of the notice sent by the employee or representative. For purposes of this section, “cure” means that the employer has provided a fully compliant, itemized wage statement to each employee for each pay period for the one-year period prior to the date of the written notice sent pursuant to subparagraph (A).
(2) If the alleged violation is cured within the 65-day period, no action to recover damages, injunctive relief, statutory penalties, or civil penalties under this section or Section 226.3 may commence.
(3) If the alleged violation is not cured within the 65-day period, an action to recover damages, statutory penalties, or civil penalties under subdivision (e) or Section 226.3 may commence.
(4) This subdivision shall not apply if the employer fails to provide a wage statement.

SEC. 2.

 Section 226.3 of the Labor Code is amended to read:

226.3.
 (a) Any employer who violates subdivision (a) of Section 226 shall be subject to a civil penalty in the amount of two hundred fifty dollars ($250) per employee per violation in an initial citation and one thousand dollars ($1,000) per employee for each violation in a subsequent citation, for which the employer fails to provide the employee a wage deduction statement or fails to keep the records required in subdivision (a) of Section 226. The civil penalties provided for in this section are in addition to any other penalty provided by law. In enforcing this section, the Labor Commissioner shall take into consideration whether the violation was inadvertent, and in his or her their discretion, may decide not to penalize an employer for a first violation when that violation was due to a clerical error or inadvertent mistake.
(b) Any action brought pursuant to this section shall comply with the requirements of subdivision (k) of Section 226.

SEC. 3.

 Section 2699 of the Labor Code is amended to read:

2699.
 (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any provision of this code that provides for a civil penalty to be assessed and collected by the Labor and Workforce Development Agency or any of its departments, divisions, commissions, boards, agencies, or employees, for a violation of this code, may, as an alternative, be recovered through a civil action brought by an aggrieved employee on behalf of himself or herself themselves and other current or former employees pursuant to the procedures specified in Section 2699.3.
(b) For purposes of this part, “person” has the same meaning as defined in Section 18.
(c) For purposes of this part, “aggrieved employee” means any person who was employed by the alleged violator and against whom one or more of the alleged violations was committed.
(d) (1) For purposes of this part, “cure” means that the employer abates each violation alleged by any aggrieved employee, the employer is in compliance with the underlying statutes as specified in the notice required by this part, and any aggrieved employee is made whole. A violation of paragraph (6) (6), (7), or (8) of subdivision (a) of Section 226 shall only be considered cured upon a showing that the employer has provided a fully compliant, itemized wage statement to each aggrieved employee for each pay period for the three-year one-year period prior to the date of the written notice sent pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 2699.3.
(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of this part, the employer may cure the alleged violation of paragraph (6), (7), or (8) of subdivision (a) of Section 226 within 65 calendar days of the postmark date of the notice sent by the employee or representative.
(e) (1) For purposes of this part, whenever the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, or any of its departments, divisions, commissions, boards, agencies, or employees, has discretion to assess a civil penalty, a court is authorized to exercise the same discretion, subject to the same limitations and conditions, to assess a civil penalty.
(2) In any action by an aggrieved employee seeking recovery of a civil penalty available under subdivision (a) or (f), a court may award a lesser amount than the maximum civil penalty amount specified by this part if, based on the facts and circumstances of the particular case, to do otherwise would result in an award that is unjust, arbitrary and oppressive, or confiscatory.
(f) For all provisions of this code except those for which a civil penalty is specifically provided, there is established a civil penalty for a violation of these provisions, as follows:
(1) If, at the time of the alleged violation, the person does not employ one or more employees, the civil penalty is five hundred dollars ($500).
(2) (A) If, at the time of the alleged violation, the person employs one or more employees, the civil penalty is one hundred dollars ($100) for each aggrieved employee per pay period for the initial violation and two hundred dollars ($200) for each aggrieved employee per pay period for each subsequent violation.
(B) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), for a violation in which the aggrieved employees do not suffer actual economic or physical harm, the aggregate total penalty shall not exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000).
(C) For purposes of this paragraph, “violation” means each type of alleged violation, without reference to the number of employees involved or the number of pay periods during which the alleged violation occurred.
(3) If the alleged violation is a failure to act by the Labor and Workplace Development Agency, or any of its departments, divisions, commissions, boards, agencies, or employees, there shall be no civil penalty.
(g) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), an aggrieved employee may recover the civil penalty described in subdivision (f) in a civil action pursuant to the procedures specified in Section 2699.3 filed on behalf of himself or herself themselves and other current or former employees against whom one or more of the alleged violations was committed. Any employee who prevails in any action shall be entitled to an award of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, including any filing fee paid pursuant to subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) or subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 2699.3. Nothing in this part shall operate to limit an employee’s right to pursue or recover other remedies available under state or federal law, either separately or concurrently with an action taken under this part.
(2) No action shall be brought under this part for any violation of a posting, notice, agency reporting, or filing requirement of this code, except where the filing or reporting requirement involves mandatory payroll or workplace injury reporting.
(h) No action may be brought under this section by an aggrieved employee if the agency or any of its departments, divisions, commissions, boards, agencies, or employees, on the same facts and theories, cites a person within the timeframes set forth in Section 2699.3 for a violation of the same section or sections of the Labor Code under which the aggrieved employee is attempting to recover a civil penalty on behalf of himself or herself themselves or others or initiates a proceeding pursuant to Section 98.3.
(i) Except as provided in subdivision (j), civil penalties recovered by aggrieved employees shall be distributed as follows: 75 percent to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency for enforcement of labor laws, including the administration of this part, and for education of employers and employees about their rights and responsibilities under this code, to be continuously appropriated to supplement and not supplant the funding to the agency for those purposes; and 25 percent to the aggrieved employees.
(j) Civil penalties recovered under paragraph (1) of subdivision (f) shall be distributed to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency for enforcement of labor laws, including the administration of this part, and for education of employers and employees about their rights and responsibilities under this code, to be continuously appropriated to supplement and not supplant the funding to the agency for those purposes.
(k) Nothing contained in this part is intended to alter or otherwise affect the exclusive remedy provided by the workers’ compensation provisions of this code for liability against an employer for the compensation for any injury to or death of an employee arising out of and in the course of employment.
(l) (1) For cases filed on or after July 1, 2016, the aggrieved employee or representative shall, within 10 days following commencement of a civil action pursuant to this part, provide the Labor and Workforce Development Agency with a file-stamped copy of the complaint that includes the case number assigned by the court.
(2) The superior court shall review and approve any settlement of any civil action filed pursuant to this part. The proposed settlement shall be submitted to the agency at the same time that it is submitted to the court.
(3) A copy of the superior court’s judgment in any civil action filed pursuant to this part and any other order in that action that either provides for or denies an award of civil penalties under this code shall be submitted to the agency within 10 days after entry of the judgment or order.
(4) Items required to be submitted to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency under this subdivision or to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health pursuant to paragraph (4) of subdivision (b) of Section 2699.3, shall be transmitted online through the same system established for the filing of notices and requests under subdivisions (a) and (c) of Section 2699.3.
(m) This section shall not apply to the recovery of administrative and civil penalties in connection with the workers’ compensation law as contained in Division 1 (commencing with Section 50) and Division 4 (commencing with Section 3200), including, but not limited to, Sections 129.5 and 132a.
(n) The agency or any of its departments, divisions, commissions, boards, or agencies may promulgate regulations to implement the provisions of this part.