Murphy v. Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc., 2007 WL 1111233 (Cal. S. Ct. 2007)

Former store manager John Paul Murphy sued Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. (KCP), a small, upscale retail clothing store, for violations of the wage and hour law, asserting that he was improperly classified as an exempt employee. After resigning his employment, Murphy filed a complaint with the Labor Commissioner. The Labor Commissioner awarded Murphy unpaid overtime, interest and a waiting time penalty. After KCP appealed, Murphy (by then represented by the Hastings College of the Law Civil Justice Clinic) filed a “notice of claims,” adding claims for unpaid meal and rest periods, pay-stub violations and interest and attorney’s fees. The trial court awarded Murphy unpaid overtime, payments for missed meal and rest periods and pay stub violations, waiting time penalties and prejudgment interest plus attorney’s fees. The Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court’s judgment that Murphy was a non-exempt employee (and, thus, entitled to overtime) in that he spent “far less than half of his time engaged in managerial duties.” However, the Court of Appeal reversed the judgment to the extent it included an award for missed meal and rest periods and for pay-stub violations since such claims were not raised before the Labor Commissioner. Further, the Court of Appeal held that the payment for a meal/rest period violation is a penalty not a wage and, therefore, is subject to a one-year statute of limitations. The California Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal, holding that the additional hour of pay provided for in Labor Code § 226.7 constitutes a wage or premium payment, which is subject to a three-year statute of limitations, and not a penalty. The Supreme Court further held that a trial court conducting a de novo trial can consider additional wage claims that were not presented to the Labor Commissioner. Cf. On-Line Power, Inc. v. Mazur, 2007 WL 1128874 (Cal. Ct. App. 2007) (salaried employee with employment contract was entitled to recover attorney’s fees under Labor Code § 218.5).

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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.