Does California wage law apply to nonresidents working temporarily in the state?


A group of nonexempt employees from your Chicago office traveled to your company’s San Diego office last month to perform project work. The project lasted several weeks and required long hours. The employees, who have since finished their project and returned home to Chicago, claim they are due daily overtime pay (consistent with California’s more generous wage law) for the time they spent working in San Diego. Are they correct?


Based on a case decided by the California Supreme Court, it appears that daily overtime mandated under California law would indeed be required. In that case, the court held that the California Labor Code applied to nonresidents’ overtime work performed in California; therefore, out-of-state employees were entitled to overtime for hours worked in excess of eight hours per day or 40 hours per week.

The court concluded that, by its terms, California’s overtime law applied to “all employment in the state, without reference to the employee’s place of residence.” To exclude nonresidents from the overtime law’s protections would tend to defeat public policy goals by encouraging employers to import unprotected workers from other states, the court wrote. Rejected were the employer’s claims that requiring an employer to comply with the laws of every state in which its employees work might amount to an undue burden on interstate commerce.

Source: Sullivan v. Oracle Corp (CalSCt 2011) 161 LC ¶61,159..

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