LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) – The Los Angeles Superior Court should have summarily decided on a wage dispute case between a health care company and its employees, a California appellate court ruled June 25.
The 2nd Appellate District of California, Division Four issued a writ of mandate ordering the lower court to grant a motion filed by the AHMC Health Care, which argued it had established as a matter of undisputed fact that their system was neutral on its face and as applied.
"Because the petitioners’ employees benefited overall from the rounding policy, the fact that a bare majority lost a minimal amount of time was not sufficient to create a triable issue of a fact," the three-judge appeals court panel ruled.
It continued, "Because petitioners presented undisputed evidence that the rounding system was neutral on its face, and that employees as a whole were significantly overcompensated, the evidence established that petitioners’ rounding system did not systematically under compensate employees over time.
"We agree the undisputed facts established that petitioners’ system was in compliance with California law. Accordingly, we grant the writ."
The case centered on a complaint filed by employees Emilio Letona and Jacquelyn Abeyta, who claimed their employer failed to pay wages, provide meal and rest breaks and did not keep timely and accurate wage statements.
But, according to the appeals court ruling, the plaintiffs' main allegations were that the California Labor Code was violated because the company rounded an employee's hours up or down to the nearest quarter hour. Both parties asked the Superior Court for summary judgment on whether this method complied with the law, but this was denied.
As part of the underlying case, an expert was employed to examine the time records at two hospitals where the employees worked, San Gabriel and Anaheim. Four years of records were studied.
The expert found that at San Gabriel, a minority of employees lost time, with the remainder either gaining or breaking even. At Anaheim, while a slight majority of employees lost time, the total amount of compensated hours was 3,875 more than worked.