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California employers have frequently been faced with confusing standards for the application of California’s stringent wage statement requirements for employees that routinely travel between states as a function of their jobs. The California Supreme Court recently addressed this issue in two companion cases: Ward v. United Airlines, Inc. and Oman v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., where the high court was tasked with assessing how and when California Labor Code Section 226 applies to airline workers who performed some work in California, but a significant portion of their work was performed outside the state.

In Ward, the California Supreme Court articulated that employers must first consider whether California is the employee’s primary work location or base of operations, by examining whether the employee spends the majority of their time in California. The Oman decision provided further clarity that an employee’s time must be analyzed on a pay-period basis. As such, if an employee spends the majority of their time in any one pay period working in California, Section 226 applies to all work in that pay period, including work outside of California. If, however, an employee spends the majority of their time in a pay period in any single state other than California, Section 226 does not apply.

The California Supreme Court also acknowledged that this test does not resolve the issue for employees, like flight attendants, who frequently travel between multiple states. For employees who may not principally work in any single state during a particular pay period, employers need to look at whether that employee has a “definite base of operations” in California to determine whether Section 226 applies to these employees’ wage statements.

Although the Ward and Oman decisions provide a new framework for assessing wage statement regulations for interstate employees, employers should work closely with California employment law specialists to navigate these requirements.

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Photo of Charles O. Thompson Charles O. Thompson

Charles Thompson focuses his practice on employment litigation and counseling representing clients through all phases of Class Actions and Single Plaintiff cases. Charles has wide-ranging experience litigating employment-related issues for public and private companies, having handled over 1,000 employment matters for clients ranging

Charles Thompson focuses his practice on employment litigation and counseling representing clients through all phases of Class Actions and Single Plaintiff cases. Charles has wide-ranging experience litigating employment-related issues for public and private companies, having handled over 1,000 employment matters for clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to Silicon Valley startups. He has tried employment, commercial, and professional liability cases to verdict and directed verdict, and has litigated and appealed cases from California State Courts to the United States Supreme Court.

Charles represents employers in wage and hour cases, as well as EEOC class actions, in state and federal courts across the United States and has broad experience appearing before the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, the Employment Development Department, and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Labor.

In addition to his trial and counseling work, Charles serves as a private and judicial mediator and arbitrator, and has acted as a pro-tem judge upon request of the court. He has broad experience in binding arbitrations and trial. He has taught trial advocacy, diversity, employment and substance abuse to clients and industry organizations.

Throughout his career, Charles has been a champion for diversity and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the board of Directors for the Justice & Diversity Center of The Bar Association of San Francisco. He actively supports and promotes diversity efforts and collaborates with clients on diversity issues.

Photo of Bryan W. Patton Bryan W. Patton

Bryan W. Patton is an associate in the Labor and Employment practice group. Bryan focuses his practice on defending employers in class action and single plaintiff employment matters asserting violations of state and federal employment law.