Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
On Thursday, the state Supreme Court dealt another blow to California employers in Pineda v. Bank of America, N.A. In a unanimous opinion, the Court announced that the penalties recoverable under section 203 of the California Labor Code are subject to a three-year statute of limitations rather than a one-year statutory period, irrespective of whether the employee seeks to recover unpaid pages along with the penalties.
Under section 203, if an employer willfully fails to timely pay final wages to an employee after termination or resignation, the employee is entitled to a penalty in the amount of a day’s wages for each day the wages remain unpaid, to a maximum of 30 days. Following a review of the statutory language, legislative history, and public policy underlying section 203, the Supreme Court ruled that all section 203 penalties are subject to a three-year statute of limitations, as specified within the statute itself. With this decision, the California Supreme Court increases the potential for wage and hour class actions seeking section 203 penalties alone, as such cases can now clearly be brought as much as three years after the alleged failure to timely final wages.