• California Wage and Hour Laws Apply to Employees from Other States, Who Perform Work in California
  • December 11, 2008 | Authors: Craig J. O'Loughlin; Charles W. Herf
  • Law Firm: Quarles & Brady LLP - Phoenix Office
  • If your company sends or allows employees into California to perform work - even for a brief period of time - California's wage and hour laws will most likely govern the compensation of those employees. A recent Ninth Circuit case, Sullivan v. Oracle Corp., 9th Cir., No. 06-56649, 11/6/08, held that non-Californians are covered by the California Labor Code (and its overtime requirements) for work performed in California as long as there is not a significant conflict with the labor laws from the employees' home state. In Sullivan, the Court found no substantial conflict in the overtime laws with Colorado and Arizona employees and therefore applied California law.

    California’s overtime laws are some of the most employee-protective in the country. Most significantly, those overtime laws require that employees working in California receive overtime pay (time and a half) in any of the following instances:

    • When more than 40 hours are worked in any week
    • When more than 8 hours are worked in any day
    • For the first 8 hours worked on a seventh consecutive day in a workweek

    Additionally, California's overtime laws require double pay (double time) in either of the following instances: 

    • When more than 12 hours are worked in any day
    • When more than 8 hours are worked on a seventh consecutive day in a workweek

    Under Sullivan, employers all over the country must be aware that, as long as no substantial conflict exists between California and the home state's labor laws, their employees performing any work in California will be governed by the California Labor Code.

    Although this case dealt only with the overtime provisions of the California Labor Code, its holding makes clear the entire Code applies to all work performed within California. This holding would, therefore, also mean that numerous other employee-protective California labor laws apply to non-Californians doing work in California, where no significant conflict in laws exists. California's rest and meal break law, for example, requires that employees be given a prescribed meal break for any shift exceeding five hours, and rest periods of at least ten minutes for each four hours of work for employees working at least three and a half hours. Failure to provide the breaks as required subjects the employer to a penalty of one hour’s pay per employee for each day there is a violation.

    Employers should also be wary of concluding that sending FLSA "exempt" employees into California to perform work would remove those employees from the reach of the overtime and break provisions of the California Labor Code. As this new ruling makes clear, the Court will also apply California's own standards for determining "exempt" status, which are often more stringent than the tests under the FLSA.