Smith v. Superior Court (L’Oréal USA, Inc.), 39 Cal. 4th 77 (2006)

Aspiring actress and model, Amanza Smith, worked as a “hair model” for L’Oréal at Christophe hair salon for which she was paid $500 for one day’s work. L’Oréal considered Smith to be an independent contractor and took more than two months to pay her the compensation it owed to her. Smith filed a class action on behalf of herself and other similarly-situated hair models, alleging, among other things, violation of Labor Code § 201 (requiring immediate payment of wages earned upon discharge of an employee) and seeking waiting-time penalties under section 203 in the amount of $500 per day per hair model for 30 days based on the latepayment of compensation. The trial court agreed with L’Oréal that the word “discharge” as used in Labor Code § 201 means “the affirmative dismissal of an employee by an employer from ongoing employment and does not include the completion of a set period of employment or a specified task” and granted summary adjudication in L’Oréal’s favor. Although the Court of Appeal denied Smith’s petition for a writ of mandate, the California Supreme Court reversed, holding that when an employee is released after completing a specific job assignment or time duration for which the employee was hired, he or she is entitled to immediate payment of the earned wages. Cf. Marathon Entm’t, Inc. v. Blasi, 140 Cal. App. 4th 1001 (2006) (actor’s personal manager could be entitled to commission for procuring employment for actor despite not being licensed as a talent agency).

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Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including…

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Tony is recognized as a leading lawyer by such highly respected publications and organizations as the Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Hollywood Reporter, and Chambers USA, which gives him the highest possible rating (“Band 1”) for Labor & Employment.  According to Chambers USA, clients say Tony is “brilliant at what he does… He is even keeled, has a high emotional IQ, is a great legal writer and orator, and never gives up.” Other clients report:  “Tony has an outstanding reputation” and he is “smart, cost effective and appropriately aggressive.” Tony is hailed as “outstanding,” particularly for his “ability to merge top-shelf lawyerly advice with pragmatic business acumen.” He is highly respected in the industry, with other commentators lauding him as a “phenomenal strategist” and “one of the top employment litigators in the country.”

“Tony is the author of the treatise titled Employment Discrimination Depositions (Juris Pub’g 2020;, co-author of Proskauer on Privacy (PLI 2020), and, since 1990, has been a regular columnist for the official publication of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Tony has been a featured guest on Fox 11 News and CBS News in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed and quoted by leading national media outlets such as The National Law JournalBloomberg News, The New York Times, and Newsweek and Time magazines. Tony is a frequent speaker on employment law topics for large and small groups of employers and their counsel, including the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), PIHRA, the National CLE Conference, National Business Institute, the Employment Round Table of Southern California (Board Member), the Council on Education in Management, the Institute for Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of California, the California Continuing Education of the Bar Program and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Bar Associations. He has testified as an expert witness regarding wage and hour issues as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and has served as a faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute. He has served as an arbitrator in an employment discrimination matter.

Tony is an appointed Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission Board of Rights and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and a guest lecturer at USC Law School and a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School.