By affirming the Trial Court’s decision to sustain a Water District’s Demurrer to a class-action complaint, the Appellate Court for the Fifth Appellate District has clearly stated that unless Labor Code provisions are specifically made applicable to public employers, they only apply to employers in the private sector. Randell Johnson v. Arvin-Edison Water Storage District (Filed 6/3/09) F056201 (Super.Ct.No. S-1500-CV-261871).
Appellant-employee, Randy Johnson, filed a class action complaint against Arvin-Edison Water Storage District, alleging unpaid overtime and missed meal periods as the class representative. Sustaining the demurrer, the trial court dismissed the lawsuit. In its decision to uphold this ruling, the Appellate Court specifically concluded that California Labor Code § 510, defining an employer’s duty to pay overtime, as well as California Labor Code § 512, regulating daily meal periods, do not apply to public entities, including this Water District. The Appellate Court also stated that, as a Municipal Corporation, the Water District was exempt from the requirement to pay all wages due immediately at the time of termination, otherwise required of private employers under California Labor Code §§ 201-203.
From a purely philosophical standpoint, this appears to a be a classic example of the expression that, while everyone is equal, some are more equal than others. Imagine that, the State exempting itself from the very statutes that it imposes upon all other employers in the private sector-what a surprise?