Ling v. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Inc.

The trial court correctly vacated the portion of the arbitrator’s initial award which awarded attorney fees to defendant employer for defeating plaintiff employee’s claims for overtime and meal break compensation which she claimed she was entitled to as a non-exempt employee under California’s Labor Code.  The trial court correctly vacated the portion of the arbitrator’s initial award which awarded attorney fees to defendant employer for defeating plaintiff employee’s claims for overtime and meal break compensation which she claimed she was entitled to as a non-exempt employee under California’s Labor Code.  The overtime claim was subject to Lab. Code 1194 which sets a one-way attorney fee recovery for employees as state public policy with respect to the overtime claim.  Since the meal break claim depended on the same question—was plaintiff a non-exempt employee—section 1194 prohibited a fee award to the prevailing employer on that claim as well.  The trial court properly confirmed the rest of the award and remanded for the arbitrator to consider whether plaintiff was entitled to a fee award on her claim for meal breaks during her training period when she was admittedly nonexempt.  The arbitrator properly denied fees based on the Supreme Court’s later decision in Kirby v. Immoos Fire Protection, Inc. (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1244 that there is no statutory right to attorney fees on rest and meal break claims.

California Court of Appeal, Sixth District (Grover, J.); March 25, 2016; 2016 WL 1169307

 

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