California Labor &
Employment Law Blog

Feb. 19 2009

Ninth Circuit Withdraws Published Decision on Reach of California Wage Laws

Topics: Court Decisions

Last November, the Ninth Circuit issued its decision in Sullivan v. Oracle Corp. and held that non-California residents are covered under California labor laws for any work performed within the state of California.The plaintiffs in the case were instructors who traveled to different states, including California, to train customers on the use of Oracle software. The plaintiffs worked between approximately five and thirty-five days per year in California. The rest of time they worked in other states. The plaintiffs alleged that Oracle misclassified them as exempt and failed to pay them daily and/or weekly overtime. The Ninth Circuit held that California wage and hour law, including its daily overtime requirement, applied to the days and weeks the plaintiffs worked in California.

Earlier this week, the Ninth Circuit withdrew its published decision in the Sullivan v. Oracle case, and instead asked for guidance from the California Supreme Court on the issues presented in the case. The Ninth Circuit certified the following three questions to the California Supreme Court:

1. Does the California Labor Code apply to overtime work performed in California for a California-based employer by out-of-state plaintiffs in the circumstances of this case, such that overtime pay is required for work in excess of eight hours per day or in excess of forty hours per week?

2. Does California Business and Professions Code AASUNsect;17200 apply to the overtime work described in question one?

3. Does AASUNsect; 17200 apply to overtime work performed outside California for a California-based employer by out-of-state plaintiffs in the circumstances of this case if the employer failed to comply with the overtime provisions of the FLSA?

The California Supreme Court has discretion whether or not to accept the request for certification and generally makes this decision within about 90 days. Historically, the California Supreme Court has granted most of the Ninth Circuit’s requests for certification. If you have employees who perform only limited work in California and you are concerned about the potential applicability of California wage laws to these employees, you will want to monitor the progress of this case. We will continue to monitor it as well and post any developments.

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For over 20 years, CDF has distinguished itself as one of the top employment, labor and immigration firms in California, representing employers in single-plaintiff and class action lawsuits and advising employers on related legal compliance and risk avoidance. We cover the state, with five locations from Sacramento to San Diego.

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About the Editor

Robin Largent has a regular presence in California state and federal courts and has been lead defense counsel and appellate counsel for large and small California employers in litigation (and arbitration) ranging from individual discrimination and harassment claims to complex wage and hour representative and class actions. She also leads the firm’s appellate practice, having substantial experience and success handling appeals, writ petitions, and amicus briefs in both state and federal court on issues such as class certification (particularly in the wage and hour arena), manageability and due process concerns associated with class action trials, exempt/non-exempt misclassification issues, meal and rest break compliance, trade secret/unfair competition matters, and the scope of federal court jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act.
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