Brewer v. Premier Golf Properties, LP, 168 Cal. App. 4th 1243 (2008)

Christine Brewer, a waitress who had been employed at the Cottonwood Golf Club, quit her job and filed a complaint seeking damages for various alleged violations of the California Labor Code. After a jury trial, Brewer was awarded less than $1,000 for unpaid regular and overtime wages, $6,000 for unpaid meal and rest breaks, $4,000 for pay stub violations, and $15,300 for minimum wage penalties. In a second phase of the trial, the jury awarded $195,000 in punitive damages to Brewer. In addition, the trial court awarded Brewer $64,710 in attorney’s fees (less than half of what she had requested). On appeal, the Court of Appeal held that “punitive damages are not recoverable when liability is premised solely on the employer’s violation of the Labor Code statutes that regulate meal and rest breaks, pay stubs, and minimum wage laws.” The Court also reversed the attorney’s fee award and ordered that the amount be reconsidered by the trial court. Cf. Marin v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 169 Cal. App. 4th 804 (2008) (DLSE Manual section regarding calculation of overtime on “flat sum bonuses” is disregarded as not having the force of law).