Ca Supreme Court: Three-Year Statute of Limitations for Meal Periods Claims

Murphy v. Kenneth Cole Productions was supposed to be the case in which the California Supreme Court once and for all held that meal period penalties are in fact penalties and not wages. Wrong again! The high court unanimously held that meal period premiums are "wages," not penalties. So much for all the press on the hotly divided court at oral argument.

Anyway, so what? Well.....wage claims are covered by a three-year statute of limitations; penalty claims are covered by a one-year statute. Three years is three times longer than one year, which may result in larger claims and larger awards .

If you care about such things, this case kind of smarts. But wait...there's more.

The Supreme Court also held that appeals of Labor Commissioner decisions to Superior Courts may include new claims not litigated on the administrative level. That means that employees may lose a claim at the Labor Commissioner level, appeal, and assert entirely new theories in court for the first time as part of the simple appeal "de novo" process. I suppose it also means that employers may appeal Labor Commissioner decisions and face entirely new claims at the Superior Court level.