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California court reverses part of ruling against East Bay Publishing over employee's wage claims

By Takesha Thomas | Jan 17, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) – A sales and marketing director for a weekly California newspaper has won part of an appeal in his case over allegedly unpaid wages.

On Jan. 4, the California Court of Appeal, 1st Appellate District Division reversed, in part, Terry Furry's claim that East Bay Publishing LLC failed to pay him overtime pay. 

The court affirmed a lower court ruling, in part, allowing Furry his meal period pay claim. The court, however, reversed the remainder of the overtime pay claim, remanding it back to lower court.

"We hold that it was error to completely deny Furry relief on his overtime claim, because imprecise evidence by an employee can provide a sufficient basis for damages when the employer fails to keep accurate records of the employee’s work hours," Judge Kathleen Kelly wrote. 

"We agree, however, that Furry is not entitled to premium or regular pay for missed meal breaks because she failed to demonstrate that East Bay knew or reasonably should have known he was working through authorized meal breaks." 

Furry, a sales and marketing director for East Bay Publishing, a weekly newspaper, filed suit in July 2014 over allegedly unpaid minimum and overtime wages, a failure to provide meal and rest breaks and sought statutory penalties for inaccurate wage statements.

Furry claims that after he was given the promotion of sales and marketing director at the company in 2009, "compensation was a base salary of $20,000, commissions (both as to his direct sales and the sales of his staff), bonuses, and vacation pay," the ruling states. 

Furry’s wage statements, however, allegedly did not break down the information in terms of hours worked, his hourly rate, his overtime rate, his double time rate, or the amount of any overtime worked. Nor did East Bay keep track of the hours that Furry worked.

Furry claims he never took meal breaks, nor was he ever told to, and worked beyond normal hours, evenings, weekends and various events and promotions.

The ruling states that during trial, Furry's "counsel argued in her opening and closing arguments that East Bay knowingly and intentionally failed to comply with the wage statement laws." 

"The trial court erred in failing to make findings on Furry’s wage statement claim," the court found.

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