Monday, March 5, 2018

Alvarado v. Dart Container Corp. of California, S232607

Labor law: Overtime work: Wage Orders: Manufacturing industry: Industrial Welfare Commission: Preemption (labor law):

California has a longstanding policy of discouraging employers from imposing overtime work. For nearly a century, this policy has been implemented through regulations, called wage orders, issued by the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC). These wage orders are issued pursuant to an express delegation of legislative power, and they have the force of law. (See Martinez v. Combs (2010) 49 Cal.4th 35, 52–57 [setting forth a brief history of the IWC].) The IWC’s wage orders originally protected only women and children, but since the 1970s, they have applied to all employees, regardless of gender. (See Stats. 1973, ch. 1007, § 8, p. 2004; Stats. 1972, ch. 1122, § 13, p. 2156; see generally Industrial Welfare Com. v. Superior Court (1980) 27 Cal.3d 690, 700– 701.) The specific wage order applicable here is Wage Order No. 1, governing wages, hours, and working conditions in the manufacturing industry, but wage orders covering other industries contain analogous restrictions.

Traditionally, Wage Order No. 1 has required the payment of an overtime premium for, among other things, any work in excess of eight hours in a day. In 1998, the IWC modified several wage orders, including Wage Order No. 1, and by doing so it partially eliminated the eight-hour-day rule, thus permitting employers to offer flexible hours within a 40-hour workweek without having to pay an overtime premium. (See IWC Order No. 1-98 Regulating Wages, Hours, and Working Conditions in the Manufacturing Industry <> [as of March 5, 2018].) The Legislature responded swiftly by enacting the Eight-Hour-Day Restoration and Workplace Flexibility Act of 1999, and the IWC’s wage orders were then modified again, this time to conform to the 1999 act. Thus, the obligation to pay an overtime premium is now found in both statutory law (see Lab. Code, § 510) and in the wage orders of the IWC. (See Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1004, 1026; Reynolds v. Bement (2005) 36 Cal.4th 1075, 1084.)

Subject to exceptions that are not relevant here, Wage Order No. 1 provides that an employer is obligated to pay an overtime premium for work in excess of eight hours in a day, 40 hours in a week, or for any work at all on a seventh consecutive day. (IWC Order No. 1-2001 Regulating Wages, Hours and Working Conditions in the Manufacturing Industry, subd. 3 <> [as of March 5, 2018] (IWC Wage Order No. 1-2001).) Such work must be compensated at 1.5 times the employee’s “regular rate of pay,” stepping up to double the “regular rate of pay” if the employee works in excess of 12 hours in a day or in excess of eight hours on a seventh consecutive working day. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 11010, subd. 3(a)(1).)

As noted, Labor Code section 510 imposes similar requirements. Thus, for overtime work, an employee must receive a 50 percent premium on top of his or her regular rate of pay, and in some cases, the employee must receive a 100 percent premium.

These requirements are more protective of workers than federal law, which does not require premium pay for workdays in excess of eight hours. Moreover, it is well settled that federal law does not preempt state law in this area, and therefore state law is controlling to the extent it is more protective of workers than federal law. (See, e.g., Tidewater Marine Western, Inc. v. Bradshaw (1996) 14 Cal.4th 557, 566–568 (Tidewater); see also Morillion v. Royal Packing Company (2000) 22 Cal.4th 575, 592; Skyline Homes, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations (1985) 165 Cal.App.3d 239, 250–251 (Skyline Homes).)

The DLSE is the state agency charged with enforcing California’s labor laws, including the IWC wage orders. (Lab. Code, §§ 21, 61, 95, 98 et seq., 1193.5.) Of course, enforcement of a law, especially an ambiguous law, necessarily requires interpretation of that law, and with the benefit of many years’ experience, the DLSE has developed numerous interpretations of California’s labor laws, which it has compiled in a series of policy manuals. (See Tidewater, supra, 14 Cal.4th at p. 562.) We explained in Tidewater that the DLSE’s policy manuals “reflect ‘an effort to organize . . . interpretive and enforcement policies’ of the agency and ‘achieve some measure of uniformity from one office to the next.’ The DLSE prepared its policy manuals internally, however, without input from affected employers, employees, or the public generally.” (Ibid.) The most recent version of the DLSE’s manual is published online. (See DLSE, The 2002 Update of the DLSE Enforcement Policies and Interpretations Manual (Revised) (April 2017) <> [as of March 5, 2018] (DLSE Manual).)

(…) In the main text, we refer to the state policy discouraging employers from imposing overtime work. We recognize, of course, that some employees desire overtime work, often because it is compensated at a premium rate. We do not intend our opinion to bar employees from choosing to work overtime when such opportunities are made available. Nonetheless, state policy clearly favors the eight-hour workday and the 40-hour workweek, doing so by requiring employers to pay premium wages for work in excess of those limits, thereby creating an incentive for employers to hire additional workers rather than to increase the hours of existing workers. In other words, the state’s policy is not focused solely on ensuring adequate compensation for workers; rather, it is also focused on making the eight-hour workday and the 40-hour workweek the norm, and making overtime work the exception. This point is reflected, for example, in the uncodified provisions of the Eight-Hour-Day Restoration and Workplace Flexibility Act of 1999, which state: “The eight-hour workday is the mainstay of protection for California’s working people”; “numerous studies have linked long work hours to increased rates of accident and injury”; “family life suffers when either or both parents are kept away from home for an extended period of time on a daily basis”; and “the Legislature . . . reaffirms the state’s unwavering commitment to upholding the eight-hour workday as a fundamental protection for working people.” (Stats. 1999, ch. 134, § 2, p. 1820.)

(Cal. S.C., March 5, 2018, Alvarado v. Dart Container Corp. of California, S232607)

Le droit du travail californien et les heures supplémentaires. La politique officielle de l'état de Californie est de décourager l'imposition d'heures supplémentaires, sans toutefois empêcher l'employé qui le peut et le veut de travailler davantage. Cette politique est mise en œuvre depuis près d'un siècle par des décisions administratives ("Wage Orders") que rend l'"Industrial Welfare Commission". A l'origine, ces décisions ne protégeaient que les femmes et les enfants, mais depuis les années 1970, elles s'appliquent à tous les employés. La décision relevante en l'espèce est "Wage Order No. 1", qui traite des conditions de travail dans la "manufacturing industry".

Dite décision a été modifiée plusieurs fois :
Elle est en outre à lire en parallèle avec la loi elle-même (cf. Code du travail, §510).

Sauf exceptions qui ne s'appliquent pas ici, "Wage Order No. 1" dispose que l'employeur est tenu de payer un montant supplémentaire pour du travail qui excède 8 heures par jour, ou 40 heures par semaine, ou pour du travail accompli un septième jour consécutif aux 6 précédents : cf. IWC Wage Order No. 1-2001

Ce travail supplémentaire doit ainsi être rémunéré à un taux de 1,5, qui passe à 2 si l'employé travaille plus de 12 heures dans une même journée ou s'il travaille plus de 8 heures pendant la septième journée consécutive (cf. Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 11010, subd. 3(a)(1)).

Le droit fédéral du travail n'est pas autant à l'avantage de l'employé. Mais dans cette matière, le principe de préemption en faveur du droit fédéral ne s'applique pas.

En Californie, l'administration compétente s'agissant de la bonne application du droit du travail est la DLSE (Division of Labor Standards Enforcement : Elle a émis un manuel qui interprète ce droit, disponible ici : The 2002 Update of the DLSE Enforcement Policies and Interpretations Manual (Revised) (April 2017) :

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