Court of Appeal: Labor Code Provisions Don't Apply to Public Entities Unless They Expressly Are Made Applicable

The court of appeal held that Labor Code sections 510 (overtime) and 512 (meal periods) do not apply to government entities because the Legislature did not expressly say they were applicable. AB 60, the bill codified in the 500's of the Lab. Code, has a provision applying some of its provisions to a narrow class of government entities. But not these provisions, and not against this agency. Therefore, the Arvin-Edison Water Storage District's demurrer to a wage and hour class action was upheld on appeal.

The most interesting argument was that Wage Order 17, applicable to "Miscellaneous" employees, brought a water district within the scope of the wage orders, daily overtime, and meal periods. Nope. The intent of Wage Order 17, the court reasoned, was to include employees within some new industry or occupation not contemplated before. But water districts have been around for a long time.

The court also held that sections 201-203, addressing timing of final pay and waiting time penalties, did not apply to a water district. That's because section 220 exempts government entities, including "other municipal corporations." Water districts are "other municipal corporations" under prior case law.

This means that water districts, like other government entities, are subject only to the federal FLSA, unless a state wage and hour law expressly applies. Perhaps our state and local governments will save some money defending against these class actions now, and slightly shrink their incredible deficits. ::::Off soapbox::::

This case is Johnson v. Arvin-Edison Water Storage Dist. and the opinion is here.