Bain v. Tax Reducers, Inc., 2013 WL 4542681 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013)

Harold Bain sued Tax Reducers, Inc. (“TRI”) for unpaid minimum wages, expenses and waiting time penalties. TRI contended that Bain was an independent contractor and not an employee of TRI. In an earlier administrative proceeding, the Labor Commissioner determined that Bain was an employee and awarded him $15,105.86. In a subsequent trial, the Court also determined that Bain was an employee and that his claims were governed by the three-year statute of limitations (applicable to statutory claims) and that the claims were not barred by the statute of limitations because TRI had agreed to pay wages as part of a settlement agreement. The trial court found in the alternative that Bain could rely upon the doctrine of equitable tolling. The Court of Appeal struck $7,700 in liquidated damages from the judgment on the basis of a one-year statute of limitations but otherwise affirmed it. The Court further held the action was not barred by the three-year statute of limitations; that TRI intentionally withheld Bain’s wages (subjecting it to waiting-time penalties under Labor Code § 203); that Bain was an employee and not an independent contractor; and that the trial court correctly dismissed Bain’s wage claims against TRI’s president and majority shareholder, James Brooks Griffin, on the ground that Griffin was not Bain’s employer and could not be held personally liable for failing to pay Bain’s wages. See also Farmers Ins. Exch. v. Superior Court, 218 Cal. App. 4th 96 (2013) (California Supreme Court’s act of depublishing an appellate court opinion on which a prior court order relied can constitute a “change of law” within the meaning of Code of Civ. Proc. § 1008(c)).