Court Hands Down Victory for Employees Who Do Piecework

The Second District Court of Appeal recently handed down a victory for employees who do piecework. The Court held that employees who are paid according to the amount produced (i.e., piecework) must also be paid separate hourly compensation for the hours spent waiting for work or doing other tasks during their shifts.

In Gonzalez v. Downtown LA Motors, LP, 215 Cal.App.4th 36 (2013), the defendant-employer, Downtown LA Motors, LP, paid its auto mechanics either a piece rate of $17 to $32 for repairs performed or the minimum wage for all hours worked, whichever was higher at the end of each pay period. This compensation plan resulted in the mechanics earning nothing for the hours they spent waiting for a repair to come in, so long as their total pay for the pay period was higher than the minimum wage.

The Court held that the defendant-employer’s compensation plan violated California’s minimum wage laws, stating “we conclude that [employees] were entitled to separate hourly compensation for time spent waiting for repair work or performing other non-repair tasks directed by the employer during their work shifts…” Id. at *1.

In reaching this decision, the Court extended California’s ban on averaging, which requires employers to pay minimum wage for each hour worked rather than averaging hours worked, to piecework compensation plans. This decision may have far-reaching effects on other cases wage-and-hour cases against employers, including a case currently pending in federal court against Wal-Mart.