Mattei v. Corporate Mgmt. Solutions, Inc., 2020 WL 3970367 (Cal. Ct. App. 2020)

Alyosha Mattei and three other lighting technicians, all members of Local 728 of the IATSE trade union, worked on the production of a television commercial that was produced under the 2016 Commercial Production Agreement (CPA) – to which IATSE and the Association of Independent Commercial Producers, Inc. are signatories.  MullenLowe hired Diktator US, LLC, to produce the commercial.  Because Diktator is not a signatory to the CPA, it paid Corporate Management Solutions, Inc. (CMS), which is a signatory to the CPA, $2,000 to “borrow” CMS’s signatory status so that Diktator would be able to hire IATSE crewmembers for the production.  When MullenLowe failed to pay Diktator for the costs of production, Diktator failed to pay CMS, which in turn failed to timely pay the employees through a third-party payroll service.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of CMS on the ground that it was not the employer within the meaning of IWC Wage Order No. 12-2001 (motion picture industry).  The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that the CPA does not permit signatories like CMS who “lend” their signatory status to non-signatory production companies like Diktator to avoid responsibility for wage and hour violations suffered by IATSE member employees.  According to the Court, “CMS appeared not to have this control [over the employees] because it chose to shut its eyes during productions, thus fostering the perception it was not an employer.”