When are Temporary Workers owed Their Final Wages?

Payment of final wages upon termination (or resignation) can be a big deal in California. Labor Code sections 201-203 set forth important rules that employers must follow, and can result in stiff penalties when they are violated: up to 30 days of pay at the employee’s regular daily wages.icon-unions

A recent California Court of Appeal decision explores the question of when temporary workers are owed their final wages. In Young v. REMX Specialty Staffing (2023) 91 Cal.App.5th 427, the plaintiff was hired by a temporary staffing agency in July 2013. She was then assigned to a Bank of the West location and, soon thereafter, terminated. The plaintiff then sued, claiming that she had not been properly paid her final wages upon the termination of her employment.

The case thus turned on California Labor Code section 201.3(b)(4), which provides that if an employee of a temporary services employer is assigned to work for a client and is discharged by the temporary services employer or leasing employer, wages are due and payable immediately.

The plaintiff in Young presented two separate arguments. First, she argued that she had been terminated on August 19 when she was told by Bank of the West that her project had ended and that she should not return to that job site. Because she had not been paid for that work until August 30, she claimed that her final wages were late.

Defendant REMX, the temp agency and the plaintiff’s employer, countered that the plaintiff had not been terminated. Rather, she remained eligible to take new assignments through REMX. The court agreed with the defendant, finding that the plaintiff had not established that she was terminated on August 30.

The plaintiff also argued that her discharge from the temporary assignment at Bank of the West constituted a discharge under section 201.3(b)(4), and that she was therefore entitled to immediate payment of her wages. The court rejected this argument, finding that a “discharge” required the end of an employment relationship. The plaintiff only had an employment relationship with defendant REMX, the temp agency, and not with Bank of the West. Therefore, a discharge from employment could only have happened when the plaintiff was discharged by defendant REMX, and not when she stopped working at Bank of the West.

The court therefore reached the following holding:

We conclude section 201.3(b)(4) applies when a temporary services employer discharges an employee from employment with the temporary services employer, not when such an employer terminates an employee from a particular work assignment.

If your employment has ended and you have questions about the timing of your final paycheck, or whether you have received all wages owed to you, please feel free to contact the employment attorneys at Hunter Pyle Law and to make use of our free and confidential intake process. We can be reached at (510) 444-4400, hunterpylelaw.com, or inquire@hunterpylelaw.com.