California Employee Sues For On-Call, Reporting-Time Pay

CALIFORNIA — A man who joined a class-action lawsuit against Williams Sonoma when the company allegedly failed to provide all wages due to California employees lost his recent appeal on a separate case — as he had already signed a release that invalidated his second attempt to collect pay from the company, California’s second appellate court found recently.

Shine v. Williams-Sonoma highlights the importance of employees thoroughly reading through a settlement agreement before accepting the terms and payment from a company.

Employees Get Paid In Original Suit For No Overtime, Unpaid Breaks, More Alleged Infractions

Back in 2015, Harley Shine was part of a group of employees who took a deal in a settlement reached in Morales v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc. et al.  In that case, which was first filed in June 2013, the lawsuit alleged 10 causes of action, including:

(1) unpaid overtime
(2) unpaid meal period premiums
(3) unpaid rest period premiums
(4) unpaid minimum wages
(5) final wages not timely paid
(6) wages not timely paid during employment
(7) non-compliant wage statements
(8) failure to keep requisite payroll records
(9) unreimbursed business expenses
(10) violation of California Business & Professions Code

Each of those potential violations can mean money for employees affected if you hire an employment attorney to sue your employer.

Rather than going to trial, the parties decided to settle, with Williams Sonoma’s denial of wrongdoing, and the class members benefited from payments of in various amounts. Class members included those who worked for Williams Sonoma Stores, Inc. at a Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn Teen, Williams-Sonoma, Williams-Sonoma Home or West Elm store in California beginning in June 24, 2009 and the date that preliminary agreement was reached in December 2014.

“On-call” pay is when an employee must be on stand-by for a shift and has to call into the workplace to determine if they’ll be needed that day.

Then in September 2016, Shine filed a new lawsuit of his own, hoping to establish another putative class action against Williams Sonoma.  In his case, Shine v. Williams-Sonoma, the man sought payment from the retailer for “reporting time pay” — also known as “on-call” pay.  That’s when an employee must be on stand-by for a shift and has to call into the workplace to determine if they’ll be needed that day.

In California, Wage Order 7-2001 of the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) states in part that:

  • (A) Each workday an employee is required to report for work and does report, but is not put to work or is furnished less than half said employee’s usual or scheduled day’s work, the employee shall be paid for half the usual or scheduled day’s work, but in no event for less than two (2) hours nor more than four (4) hours, at the employee’s regular rate of pay, which shall not be less than the minimum wage.
  • (B) If an employee is required to report for work a second time in any one workday and is furnished less than two (2) hours of work on the second reporting, said employee shall be paid for two (2) hours at the employee’s regular rate of pay, which shall not be less than the minimum wage.

Shine felt that he and other employees were still owed reporting-time pay when their shifts were canceled shortly before they were supposed to start.

While reporting-time, or on-call, pay is indeed a form of wages and a valid reason to sue an employer who has not paid them, the first class action against Williams Sonoma focused on the same primary concepts of failure to pay all wages.  That’s why in 2016, a California judge dismissed Shine’s case since he was already part of a settlement related to unpaid wages against the company.

Shine appealed, still seeking the on-call pay. On May 29, the appeals court found that his case could not go forward.

“Because reporting-time pay is a form of wages, a claim for reporting-time pay could have been raised in the Morales action,” the California court said when it affirmed a previous order of dismissal.

The court tied it all back to the release that Shine had signed from the previous case.

“Because we conclude the release is clear and unambiguous, further amendment of the complaint would be pointless,” the court said, however noting that “We do not reach the other issues briefed by the parties, and express no opinion as to the merits of the complaint or Mr. Shine’s standing to pursue this action.”

Always make sure your attorneys have defined a proper scope for any settlement agreement you will be agreeing to.  Please contact Lauby, Mankin & Lauby employment lawyers today in order to have an attorney review your case or to get a free second opinion at anytime!