Under Lab. Code 203, an employer must pay an employee who quits all wages owed the employee within 72 hours or pay waiting time penalties of an average day’s pay for each day of delay up to a total of 30 days. Here, the employee resigned by an after-business-hours email on a Friday evening. This decision holds that the 72 hours did not begin to run when the email was sent but rather when the employer received it, either on Saturday when the bookkeeper read it, or on the following Monday when the employer’s principals reviewed it. So the check issued to the resigned employee on Tuesday was timely. However, the check proved to be non-negotiable because of an inadvertent error in the amount stated in words, which omitted the word “eighty”, and so was less than the sum shown in numerals. As the error was inadvertent, the error did not subject the employer to waiting time penalties, but the employer did not immediately replace the check when informed of the error, and so was liable for waiting time penalties for the period between when it was informed of the error and when it replaced the check. The waiting time penalties were computed based on the employees average daily wage, not on the $80 she was underpaid. Under Lab. Code 98.2(c), the employee was the prevailing party entitled to attorney fees even though the employer, on its appeal from the Labor Commissioner’s ruling, managed to reduce the employee’s recovery somewhat. Unless the employer succeeds in reducing the award to zero, the employee is entitled to fees. The trial court did not err in awarding the employee fees incurred on all issues retried on the employer’s appeal even though the employee lost on some of them. Nor was it an abuse of discretion to award fees at $500 per hour and enhance the fees with a 1.5 multiplier.
California Court of Appeal, First District, Division 4 (Schulman, J., sitting by assignment); August 1, 2018; 2018 Cal. App. LEXIS 676