In rare win for employer, court finds defendant complied with wage statement requirements for legal entity name and address

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Plaintiffs’ attorneys in California have long been scrutinizing their clients’ paystubs, looking for any excuse to file a claim against defendant employers for wage statement violations. Considering the Labor Code’s requirement that wage statements contain the “name and address of the legal entity that is the employer,” (Lab. Code § 226(a)) some plaintiffs have argued that paystubs reflecting only a company’s fictitious business name (“FBN”) violate the Labor Code. In one recent case, the plaintiff argued that the employer, YRC, Inc., erred in listing its fictitious business name, YRC Freight, on plaintiff’s paystubs. Under an additional theory of liability, the plaintiff alleged that the employer violated the Labor Code by failing to include the employer’s Zip+4 Code (the unnecessary last four numbers sometimes added to zip codes).

Finding there is no distinction between a legal corporation and its FBN, the court of appeal ruled in the employer’s favor on this issue. In its ruling, the Court emphasized the fact that the employer had “a valid fictitious business name statement and renewal recorded in” two counties. Savea v. YRC, Inc., Ct. App. 1st Dist., 4/10/19, No. A152379. The Court of Appeal also reached the seemingly obvious conclusion that it is sufficient for an employer to include its five-digit zip code in its address.

Many employers do business under names other than their legal entity name (“DBAs”), even though these DBAs are often not registered as FBNs. The Savea Court may have reached a different conclusion had YRC neglected to register its FBN in the counties where it was doing business. Employers should check whether they have satisfied all requirements to use a DBA and should consider speaking with an attorney to ensure that their employees’ paystubs comport with the requirements of Labor Code section 226.