Truck driver Oscar Bell and others filed a class action complaint against H.F. Cox, Inc. alleging wage and hour violations. The trial court summarily adjudicated three counts in favor of Cox, a jury found in favor of Cox on another count and the trial court found that plaintiffs were exempt from federal overtime compensation requirements. The court awarded Cox attorneys fees on certain claims. Plaintiffs appealed.
In Bell v. H.F. Cox, Inc. (2012) 209 Cal.App.4th 62. The Court of Appeal held that (1) summary adjudication was proper as to the count for failure to pay promised vacation benefits to current employees but improper as to the count for failure to pay vacation benefits due upon termination of employment; (2) the denial of plaintiffs’ motion to exclude witnesses from testifying at trial was proper; (3) the finding that plaintiffs were exempt from federal overtime compensation requirements pursuant to the motor carrier exemption was proper; (4) plaintiffs have shown no instructional error; and (5) the attorney fee award to Cox as the prevailing party was improper and must be reversed.
The most interesting part of the holding is that employers may now safely promulgate policies that give current employees vacation pay at a specified rate that is different that their normal rate of pay. Left open to interpretation is whether a non-union worker's unused vacation pay upon termination can be paid at the lower, specified vacation rate rather than the employee's ordinary rate of pay, given Labor Code § 227.3:
"Unless otherwise provided by a collective-bargainingagreement, whenever a contract of employment or employer policyprovides for paid vacations, and an employee is terminated withouthaving taken off his vested vacation time, all vested vacation shallbe paid to him as wages at his final rate in accordance with suchcontract of employment or employer policy respecting eligibility ortime served..."
A petition for rehearing was denied. No petitition for review was filed and the remittitur has been issued.
A prior appeal involving the same parties was published and then depublished in 2008. Our post on that action can be found here.