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Labor Commissioner Takes Expansive View of ABC

The ABC Test established by Dynamex made it difficult for employers to classify workers as independent contractors for claims “under the wage orders.” But what does that really mean? Which cases are “claims under the wage orders?” Not surprisingly, the Labor Commissioner takes a very broad view of the ABC test’s applicability.

The Labor Commissioner oftentimes issues opinion letters on various topics within their jurisdiction (i.e., wage and hour questions). Courts are not required to follow the Labor Commissioner opinions, particularly when the Labor Commission changes its position on a topic, but most courts will at least afford the opinion some weight.

Earlier this year the Labor Commissioner issued an opinion regarding “Application of the “ABC” Test to Claims Arising Under Wage Orders.” The opinion discusses (or at least mentions) many of the cases interpreting the ABC test since Dynamex. Even if courts don’t follow the opinion letter, the Labor Commissioner will most certainly follow its own decision.

The Labor Commissioner points out that “Dynamex ties application of the ABC test to enforcement of obligations imposed by the wage orders.”

Because wage order provisions are not independently actionable (see Thurman v. Bayshore Transit Management, Inc. (2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 1112, 1132), the “obligations imposed by a wage order” do not appear only in the wage orders themselves. Wage order obligations are also imposed by certain Labor Code provisions, which serve to enforce the wage orders. In such cases, the IWC employer definitions are imported into the Labor Code provision.

[fn4] Some Labor Code provisions expressly reference the substantive standards of the wage orders. (See, e.g., Labor Code section 1197 [”The minimum wage for employees fixed by the [JWC] or by any applicable state or local law, is the minimum wage to be paid to employees .. .”]; section 1198 (”The maximum hours of work and the standard conditions of labor fixed by the [IWC] shall be the maximum hours of work and the standard conditions of labor for employees.”]; section 226.7 [“An employer shall not require an employee to work during a meal or rest or recovery period mandated pursuant to an applicable statute, or applicable regulation, standard, or order of the [IWC] …”].)

The Labor Commissioner then sets out the types of claims that involved enforcement of obligations imposed by the wage orders:

Obligations of employers under the wage orders include those relating to overtime; minimum wages; reporting time pay; recordkeeping (including itemized pay stub obligations); business expense reimbursement for cash shortages, breakage, or loss of equipment; business expense reimbursement for required uniforms, tools, and equipment; meal periods; and rest periods. (See, e.g., Wage Order No. 1-2001, sections 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12.)

“But wait,” you may be saying, “didn’t Dynamex specifically exclude expense reimbursement claims from the ABC test?” No, it didn’t. The drivers challenged which test was applicable to their 2802 claim “insofar as that claim seeks reimbursement for business expenses other than business expenses encompassed by the wage order.” The issue of which test applies to expense claims other than those encompassed by the wage order was not before the court. To the extent the expense reimbursement claim is related to expenses encompassed by the wage order, the ABC test still applies.

The following quotes and cites from the opinion letter will hopefully clarify the Labor Commissioner’s view of which tests apply to which claims:

Dynamex and decisions following it have applied the ABC test to Labor Code sections enforcing minimum wage, overtime, meal and rest breaks, and itemized pay stubs.

See, e.g., Garcia v. Border Transportation Group, LLC (20 18) 28 Cal.App.5th 558, 570-71 [Dynamex only applies to “wage-order claims”]; Alvarez v. XPO Logistics Cartage LLC (C.D. Cal. Nov. 15, 2018, No. CV 18-03736) 2018 WL 6271965, at *4 [Dynamex applies “for the purpose of wage orders”]; Karl v. Zimmer Biomet Holdings (N.D.Cal. Nov. 6, 2018, No. C 18-04176) 2018 WL 5809428, at *3 [”ABC test applies only to claims arising under Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders”]; Johnson v. Serenity Transportation, Inc. (N.D.Cal. Aug. I, 20 18, No. 15-CV-02004) 2018 WL 3646540, at* 11 [Supreme Court recently adopted the ABC test ‘·for purposes of the wage orders”].

We don’t know whether the ABC Test applies to section 203 claims for waiting time penalties. (see Garcia v. Border Transportation Group, LLC (2018) 28 Cal.App.5th 558,571, fn.11 [stating section 203 claim did
not “arise under the wage order”, and Futrell v. Payday California. Inc. (2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 1419, 1425, 1428-31 [applying “suffer or permit” standard to section 203, which could imply the ABC test applies].)

We will have to wait and see how the court and the legislature refine, limit or expand the ABC test. For now, the conservative approach means that employers in California should treat workers as employees–at least for wage and hour purposes–unless the hiring entity can prove each of the following factors:

  • (A) that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact; and
  • (B) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and
  • (C) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.

If you have a question about classifying your workers, or if you believe you were incorrectly classified as an independent contractor, contact the Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. Robert Nuddleman helps employers and employees comply with and enforce employment laws in California.

Original Article by Robert Nuddleman of the Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Using this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. Using the Internet or this blog to communicate with the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted on this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employers and employees in a wide range of employment law matters. Much of his practice focuses on wage and hour issues, such as unpaid overtime, meal and rest break violations, designing or enforcing commission plans, and other wage-related claims. He also advises employers on how to avoid harassment and wrongful termination claims, and represents employees who have been victims of unlawful discrimination, retaliation or harassment. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. helps employers develop good employment policies, and helps employers and employees with disability accommodation issues.

Independent Contractor Analysis Gets Modified…Again

Further Clarification of the Employee vs. Independent Contractor Question

The distinction between employees and independent contractors is imperative to workers and businesses. Employees enjoy many more protections and benefits than independent contractors and therefore place a bigger legal burden on employers. Last year, in Dynamex, the California Supreme Court made the legal gray area of worker classification less hazy, and a new case, Garcia v. Border Transportation Group, provides further clarity.

Review of the Dynamex “ABC Test”

We covered Dynamex last year, but its importance to workers and businesses warrants a review. The Supreme Court set out a three-part legal standard (the “ABC test”) for independent contractor status. Part A requires independent contractors to be free from control by the contracting business. Part B requires contractors to perform work that is not in the normal scope of the contracting business. Finally, part C requires contractors to have their own independent business. If these qualifications are not met, the worker must be treated as an employee under Industrial Welfare Commission wage orders.

The Impact of Garcia

The ABC test does not apply to all areas of employment law, however. In Garcia, the Court of Appeal carves out important exceptions to this standard. The Dynamex decision only applies to wage orders, not other statutes or regulations. Wage orders require employers to pay the minimum wage, allow certain meal and rest breaks, provide itemized wage statements to employees, and other basic employment requirements. Other laws, such as Workers’ Compensation law to non-wage order claims don’t fall under the Dynamex standard. These statutes typically rely on a standard set in S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations, which primarily relies on “whether the person to whom the service is rendered has the right to control the manner and means of accomplishing the result desired.”

Correct classification of workers can be make or break for both sides of employment relationships. Whenever a dispute arises, or when developing hiring practices, contact the Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. to ensure compliance with the law.

Written by J.T. Keane for Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Using this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. Using the Internet or this blog to communicate with the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted on this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employers and employees in a wide range of employment law matters. Much of his practice focuses on wage and hour issues, such as unpaid overtime, meal and rest break violations, designing or enforcing commission plans, and other wage-related claims. He also advises employers on how to avoid harassment and wrongful termination claims, and represents employees who have been victims of unlawful discrimination, retaliation or harassment. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. helps employers develop good employment policies, and helps employers and employees with disability accommodation issues.

Properly Paying Caregivers: SNT Symposium

Properly Paying Caregivers for Special Needs Trust Beneficiaries

I am excited to present Properly Paying Caregivers for SNT Beneficiaries at this year’s Special Needs Planning SymposiumSharon Novak of TEAM Risk Management Strategies, LLC and I will cover:

  • Employees versus Independent Contractors
  • Personal Attendants versus Companions
  • Who is an Employer when Hiring Caregivers
  • Minimum Wage and Overtime Obligations
  • Paid Sick Leave Requirements
  • Payroll Taxes, Unemployment Insurance and Workers’ Compensation
  • Conducting Background Checks
  • Common Myths and Misconceptions when Hiring Caregivers

The presentation will be part of a 2-day symposium, with 14 sessions, 10+ speakers and 2 workshops. Set in beautiful Sonoma, California, you can view the full schedule here.

Properly Paying Caregivers Presentation  Set for Saturday, February 18th, at 2:30 p.m.

Kevin Urbatsch did a wonderful job gathering wonderful speakers, including professional fiduciaries, trusts and estates attorneys and other professionals experienced in handling special needs trusts. I look forward to seeing you all there.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

Presentation at EB Low Cost Ed Day

On Saturday, October 29th, I’ll be conducting a presentation at CalCPA’s East Bay Low Cost Ed Day. I’m looking forward to the presentation, where I will discuss Wage & Hour Best Practices – How to Best Advise Your Clients in this Complex Area.

Presentation Topics

  •   Employees v. Independent Contractors
    • Differences
    • Consequences of Misclassification
  •  Applicable laws & Agencies
    •  State v. Federal v. City/County
    • IWC & Wage Orders
    • City/County Ordinances
    • Opinion Letters
    • Enforcement Manual
  • Basic Pay Requirements
    • Minimum Wage
    • Regular “Workdays” and “Workweeks”
    • Regular Rate of Pay
    • Overtime
    • Bonuses & Commissions
  •  Exempt & Non-Exempt Employees
    • Nonexempt Employees
    • Exempt Employees – salary + duties
  • Meal and rest periods
  • How/when to pay employees
    • Time record requirements
    • Pay stub requirements
    • Deductions from pay
    • Payment upon separation
  • Employees In or About the Home
    • Caregivers
    • Other Household Employees
    • Special Rules for Live-Ins

I will be presenting from 1:00 p.m. to 2:40 p.m. at the Crow Canyon Country Club. You can register here and the event is open to members and non-members.

I hope to see you there.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.