Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Thursday, August 11, 2005

California Not Always Bad for Employers - No Individual Liability for Officers & Directors for Wage Claims

Much to the relief of many high level employees who were concerned about the possibility of personal liability under California wage and hour laws, they were let off the hook today (at least generally) in a unanimous opinion by the California Supreme Court. Reynolds v. Bement (Cal. 8/11/05) [pdf]. As you would expect, Michael and Mark Walsh at their fine website The California Wage and Hour Weblog, were quick with an in depth report of the case, Supreme Court Rules that Officers and Directors Are Not Personally Liable for Wage Violations.

This appears to be one case where the California wage and hour law is now actually less favorable for employees than the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Of course, if one wants to cynically persist that California is always anti-employer, one could view the decision as a victory for a certain class of employees, albeit high level ones, rather than employers. And in support of a more critical view one could note that one Justice actually wrote a concurring opinion encouraging the Legislature to correct its errant ways in not making officers and directors liable. But in a day and time when civility seems to be in much shorter supply than criticism, let those of us on this side of the docket opt, at least for today, for the kinder/gentler view of the law of California.

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