Definition of "employer." The California Supreme Court has ruled that, in lawsuits to recover unpaid minimum wages or overtime, courts must apply the definition of "employer" as found in the wage orders issued by the state's Industrial Work Commission (IWC) (Martinez v. Combs, 49 Cal. 4th 35 (Cal. 2010)). The IWC has three alternative definitions of what actions constitute being an employer:
• Exercising control over the wages, hours, or working conditions, or
• Suffering or permitting an individual to work, or
• Engaging an individual, thereby creating a common law employment relationship.
This decision expands the definition of employer and may subject employers with independent contractors, or employers in joint employment relationships, to minimum wage and overtime liability.
Pieceworkers. A California Court of Appeal has held that auto mechanics who were paid on a piece-rate basis for repairing cars were also entitled to receive minimum wage for time in between repairs spent waiting for customers, cleaning their areas, going to meetings, and other nonrepair time, even though the employer made sure that the employees earned at least minimum wage for every hour worked ( Gonzales v. Downtown LA Motors, LP, Cal. App. No. B235292 (2013)).
Several occupations are exempt from the state minimum wage requirements (CA Labor Code Sec. 1182.12):
• Individuals participating in a national service program receiving assistance through federal community service grants
• Close relatives of the employer
Also exempt are persons employed in administrative, ...