California Wage Law Protects Visiting Workers

Oracle Corp. buildingCalifornia-based Oracle Corp.’s out-of-state “teachers” are entitled to overtime pay when they work in California.   The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals decision today only affirms what the California Supreme Court told them back in July.

If a California company, with out-of-state workers, brings those employees to California to work they must comply with California’s wage and overtime laws.  The state law also treats in-state and out-of-state workers equally.  So non-California employers who send employees to the state, even temporarily, must comply with California’s wage, overtime, meal and rest break laws.

A group of Oracle employees from Arizona and Colorado sued because they were classified exempt from overtime as teachers who train Oracle customers on software product use .   

The teachers say they were putting in 10 to 15 hour days on some occasions as they traveled around California giving instructions.  The lawsuit applies to temporary workers between 2001 and 2004, because Oracle has since changed its policies.

The case originally came down on the side of Oracle, but on appeal to the 9th Circuit, the appellate judges asked the California Supreme Court to interpret its state laws on the issue – not wanting to interfere in undecided state law turf.

In July the California Supreme Court said the employees of a California company are still protected by California law because if not, then companies would simply hire employees from other states, rather than looking for workers in California. 

The 9th Circuit ruling does not go so far as to protect overtime pay rights for non-California workers who work in other states for a California company.

 Case:  Sullivan v. Oracle Corp.  No. 06-56649

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