Labor Code section 206.5 may be the focus of forthcoming opinion in Fourth Appellate District

Greatsealcal100I’m told that the Fourth Appellate District, Division Three, has an interesting opinion on the way in the next couple of weeks. According to Wage Law via Twitter (@wagelaw), Chindarah et al. v. Pick Up Stix, Inc. et al. is going to have something interesting to say about Labor Code section 206.5. @wagelaw suggests that the decision is due this week, and the docket nominally supports that contention, noting that the decision is “due” on February 19, 2009. However, at least some of the Courts of Appeal around the state interpret the 90-day deadline on the issuance of opinions in submitted matters to mean that the case must be decided by the end of the month in which the decision is due (when the Court reports on whether it has resolved all pending matters under penalty of nonpayment of Justices’ salaries). I don’t know if this interpretation is universal across the state, but, if it applies here, the decision could issue any time before the end of the month. And don’t forget that, in rare circumstances, the Court can essentially vacate the submission and resubmit the matter if the press of other business makes issuance of an opinion by its orginal due date impossible.

Section 206.5 fascinates me.  Maybe "fascinates" is a bit strong.  In any event, there is little in the way of decisional law about this Labor Code section, which states:

(a) An employer shall not require the execution of a release of a claim or right on account of wages due, or to become due, or made as an advance on wages to be earned, unless payment of those wages has been made. A release required or executed in violation of the provisions of this section shall be null and void as between the employer and the employee. Violation of this section by the employer is a misdemeanor.

(b) For purposes of this section, "execution of a release" includes requiring an employee, as a condition of being paid, to execute a statement of the hours he or she worked during a pay period which the employer knows to be false.

Subdivision (b) is new, so the opinion can’t address that provision. That leaves subdivision (a). In the world of wage and hour class actions, the only time I ever ran across this section was when an employer was picking off class members by making them sign a release to get an offered payment. I believed that the releases obtained were void, but I never had the opportunity to test that belief. I’m very curious to see if that is the issue that has been presented in Chindarah. Of course, there is no guarantee of publication, but, as a matter of first impression (while I wildly speculate about the issues on appeal), one has to believe that publication would be certain.

And to digress for a moment, Twitter is definitely building momentum as a source for breaking news (amongst the nonsense about what somebody has decided to eat for dinner). You can read my recent posts in the sidebar on this blog or see whose posts I am following on Twitter by going to (@hsleviant, in Twitter-ese).  If you start by reading posts from legal news sources, you may find that you can build a customized legal news amalgamation that suits your interests very precisely.