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Have lawyer review California wage statements

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in Small Business Tax Deduction Strategies

California is a great state—for employees who want to sue their employers. Even the wage statements employees get with their paychecks can lead to lawsuits.

Advice: Have your attorney take a look at those pay stubs to make sure they comply with California wage-and-hour laws.

Recent case: Amber Morgan spent about two months working as a nonexempt hourly co-manager for United Retail. After she left, she filed a class-action complaint against the company, alleging that it violated California’s complex wage-and-hour laws by providing a weekly wage statement that wasn’t specific enough.

Here’s what United Retail showed on its weekly wage statements: information regarding hours worked, wages earned, rates of pay, deductions from pay and similar information.

Employees who worked only straight time got wage statements listing just their regular hours. The wage statements of employees who worked overtime separately detailed the total regular hours the employee worked, plus the total overtime hours worked. However, the statements did not add the regular and OT hours together and list the sum on a separate line.

Morgan sued, claiming the statements violated California law because they did not show the total hours worked by the employee.

Both a trial court and an appeals court rejected Morgan’s claims, reasoning that employees simply had to add up the two numbers to get the total. Presumably most employees can handle such simple math. (Morgan v. United Retail, No. 216130, Court of Appeal of California, 2nd Appellate District, 2010)

Final note: Your payroll provider should be on top of this. However, if you have any doubts whether your pay stubs comply with California law, ask your attorney to review them.

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