Labor laws in California set out clear regulations for pay stubs, including what’s required to be on the stub and how this information must be laid out. In California, your pay stub needs to include everything from gross wages earned and total hours worked to the name and address of your employer and the dates of the period for which you’re being paid.
That may seem like a lot of information for a single pay stub, but accurate and easy-to-understand records help employees keep track of their wages – and make it easier to settle any disputes. For United and Continental Airlines, who merged back in 2013 as part of a $3 billion deal, the law has still proved too difficult, and both companies now face proposed class action lawsuits from flight attendants who say their pay stubs are missing some important information.
The lawsuits, filed last week, claim that the companies’ pay stubs fail to state hourly pay rates, total hours worked, and even the companies’ addresses, which are replaced with a P.O. Box. United and Continental are facing separate lawsuits, with each hoping to certify a class of flight attendants who worked in California at any time up to one year before the filing of the complaints. The same labor law that the companies are accused of violating entitles employees to collect penalties – $50 for the first violation and $100 for each subsequent violation, with individual compensation capped at $4,000.
Companies Pay the Price for Inaccurate Wage Statements
California’s regulations covering wages and pay stubs are some of the tightest in the country. That’s good news for California workers, but bad news for companies that fail to follow the law. United and Continental are hardly the first companies to face lawsuits over their pay stubs. California’s Labor Code – particularly §226 – has called out several business in the past few years.
In October 2014, Verizon agreed to a $15 million settlement to end a class action lawsuit from employees whose pay stubs were missing some important information. Employees argued that, without the required information, it was impossible to check whether they had been paid properly or not. The size of the settlement reflects the size of the company’s actions: in the period covered by the suit, April 2009 to May 2011, more than 223,000 wage statements were given to some 6,800 employees, all without hourly rates, number of hours worked, and the date of the pay period.
Earlier this year, in February 2015, a temp agency – Career Strategies Temporary, Inc. – was also hit with a lawsuit that alleged the company’s wage statements were missing pay period dates and the amount of time each employee spent working. As many as 1,000 workers could benefit from the suit, with the complaint stating that:
“Plaintiff and each class member suffered and suffer injuries as a result of the missing pay period because a reasonable person could not promptly, and easily determine the pay period from the wage statement alone without reference to other documents or information.”
In September, 2014, Black & Decker, Inc., agreed to an almost $5 million settlement to end allegations that the company supplied inaccurate wage slips to workers in fourteen different subsidiaries and affiliated companies. The settlement was part of a larger wage and hour lawsuit, which included claims that the company failed to provide proper rest breaks. The pay stub subclass of the suit included 888 workers whose wage statements failed to include the required information, and in some cases misstated the employer’s name. The company denies liability in the case, but has settled to avoid further expense.
In all these cases, companies could have saved themselves some trouble by simply following the law. The burden to do this always lies with the company, not the worker, and given that missing pay stub information can prevent workers from ensuring they are being paid properly, it is always in employees’ interests to double check their wage statements. It might not seem like the kind of thing that needs checking, but as the cases above show, even major companies sometimes provide inaccurate – and therefore illegal – pay stubs.
If this happened to you, feel free to get in touch.