The California Court of Appeal recently held in Pineda v. Bank of America that where an employer has paid all wages due upon termination before the filing of a lawsuit, a plaintiff's claim for waiting time penalties is governed by a one year statute of limitations. In Pineda, the employer paid plaintiff his final wages four days after his termination. More than a year and a half later, the employee filed a lawsuit seeking recovery solely for waiting time penalties under California Labor Code §203. Plaintiff also alleged that the employer's failure to timely pay final wages was an unfair business practice under Business and Professions Code §17200.
The Court of Appeal found that, where there is no concurrent claim for unpaid wages, an employee's claim for Labor Code §203 waiting time penalties is governed by the one year statute of limitations under Code of Civil Procedure section 340. The three year statute of limitations under Labor Code §203 is only available if the plaintiff is seeking recovery of unpaid wages along with waiting time penalties (i.e. if the employer has not paid all wages due upon termination at the time of the filing of the lawsuit). Significantly, the court also held that, since Business and Professions Code §17200 does not provide for damages or penalties (only restitution), plaintiff could not invoke the four year statute of limitations on his claim for waiting time penalties.