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Fresno Court Declines to Invalidate Piecerate Safe Harbor 

July 25, 2016

Bryan Little, Farm Employers Labor Service

On July 25, a Superior Court in Fresno denied a petition by Nisei Farmers League requesting a preliminary injunction to prevent the Department of Industrial Relations from implementing the piecerate safe harbor, and allowing employers until July 28, 2016 to file for the safe harbor.  The original deadline had been July 1, 2016.

The safe harbor was created by AB 1513, legislation passed by the California Legislature that became effective on January 1, 2016.  The safe harbor was intended to protect employers from liability for failing to properly compensate employees for rest periods and other non-productive time in the wake of appellate court decisions in 2013 in the Gonzalez and Bluford cases that held that employers must separately compensate employees for rest and other non-productive time.

The Superior Court was not persuaded by allegations raised in the underlying lawsuit by Nisei Farmers League which questioning the legal validity of several features of AB 1513, in particular the meaning of the phrases "other non-productive time" and "directly related" in the context of activity directly related to the production of piece-rate compensated work.  Nisei successfully sought a temporary restraining order against the operation of the AB 1513 safe harbor deadlines and requested a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Department of Industrial Relations from enforcing the July 1 sign-up deadline; the December 15, 2016 back wage payment deadline, and any requirements included in AB 1513 dependent on the phrases "other non-productive time" or "directly related."

FELS subscribers and clients should be advised that the piecerate safe harbor and AB 1513 as a whole remain in place.  The deadline for employers to file for the safe harbor remains July 28, 2016.

You can find further AB 1513/Safe Harbor resources at this link.