Nishiki v. Danko Meredith, APC, 25 Cal. App. 5th 883 (2018)

Taryn Nishiki worked as office manager and paralegal for a law firm before resigning her employment via email on Friday, November 14, 2014.  At the time of her resignation, Nishiki was owed $2,880.31 for her accrued but unused vacation time.  On Tuesday, November 18, 2014, the firm mailed Nishiki a handwritten check that contained an inconsistency:  The amount of the check as written in numerals was “$2,880.31,” but the amount as spelled in words was “Two thousand eight hundred and 31/100” – which was $80 short.  Eight days later, Nishiki informed the firm she could not deposit the check because of the inconsistency between the numerical and written amounts.  On Friday, December 5, 2014, the firm mailed Nishiki a corrected check in the amount of $2,880.31.  Nishiki filed a complaint with the labor commissioner seeking, among other things, waiting time penalties in the amount of $7,500 (for 30 days at the rate of $250 per day).  The hearing officer granted Nishiki 17 days of waiting time penalties x $250 per day = $4,250.

The employer appealed the award to the superior court and after a trial de novo, the superior court awarded Nishiki the $4,250 in waiting time penalties plus $86,160 in attorneys’ fees.  The Court of Appeal in this opinion reduced the number of waiting-time penalty days from 17 to nine (the period between when the firm had notice of the error on the check and the date on which it sent the corrected check), but otherwise affirmed the lower court and determined that Nishiki was entitled to the additional attorneys’ fees she incurred for the appeal.  See also Burkes v. Robertson, 2018 WL 3974399 (Cal. Ct. App. 2018) (employer’s failure to file a timely request for waiver of undertaking due to indigency deprived trial court of jurisdiction to hear appeal of $81,565.34 labor commissioner award to employee).