Liday v. Sim, 40 Cal. App. 5th 359 (2019)

Lea Liday sued her former employers for unpaid wages incurred from April 2010 until April 2014. Liday worked as the family’s live-in caretaker for their children and was paid a fixed salary of $3,000 per month. The trial court determined that Liday was a “personal attendant” under Wage Order No. 15 and that her salary did not compensate her at the statutory minimum wage for all the hours she had worked. (Before 2014, live-in domestic workers classified as “personal attendants” were exempt from California overtime requirements but were still entitled to be paid at least the minimum wage for all hours worked; since 2014, personal attendants are also entitled to overtime pay for all hours worked in excess of nine hours per day/45 hours per week.) In order to calculate the regular rate Liday was paid, the trial court divided Liday’s average weekly salary by 45 hours ($15.38) and concluded she was owed minimum wages at that rate for the hours she worked in excess of 45. The employers, on the other hand, argued that the trial court should have divided Liday’s salary by the $8 per hour statutory minimum wage to determine how many hours Liday’s salary had covered and then ordered the employers to pay Liday for any uncompensated hours at the rate of $8 per hour, resulting in a reduction of the amount owed from $265,720 to $74,000. The trial court awarded Liday $403,256, including prejudgment interest. The Court of Appeal agreed with the employers and determined that Liday is entitled to an award of only $74,080 in combined restitution and unpaid wages for the relevant period.