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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Supreme Court to Hear Oral Argument on Martinez v. Combs

Martinez v. Combs has been on the Supreme Court's desk for more than five years. The Court just announced that it will hear oral argument on Tuesday, March 2, 2010, at 9:00 a.m., in San Francisco. See the Court's docket here. The Court states the issues presented as follows:
Petition for review after the Court of Appeal affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment in a civil action. The court ordered briefing deferred pending decision in Reynolds v. Bement, S115823, which includes the following issue: Can the officers and directors of a corporate employer personally be held civilly liable for causing the corporation to violate the statutory duty to pay minimum and overtime minimum wages, either on the ground such officers and directors fall within the definition of "employer" in Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order 9 or on another basis?
The real issue is this: when the Wage Orders say that an "employer" is "any person as defined in Section 18 of the Labor Code, who directly or indirectly, or through an agent or any other person, employs or exercises control over the wages, hours, or working conditions of any person," what does that mean, and what impact does that have on the enforcement of the wage laws in California?

Martinez is an extremely important case that we've been waiting on for a long time. Plaintiffs' counsel did a phenomenal job briefing it, and I am sure they will perform equally well in front of the Court. Assuming that the Court does not strain to mis-interpret the Wage Order, I look forward to a positive ruling that puts greater teeth into California's wage laws.

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