Monday, September 6, 2010

Northern California Court finds no "aiding and abetting" liability for wage/hour claims

On Wednesday, Judge Susan Illston issued an order which dismissed a claim against Comcast for allegedly aiding and abetting TriWire Engineering Solutions's failure to pay employees overtime.

According to court documents, Comcast contracted with TriWire Engineering Solutions to "install, disconnect, and upgrade cable television and computer services for customers throughout California."  Jason Toy worked in that capacity for TriWire until March 2009.  He now claims that TriWire failed to pay him for the hours he worked and that it systematically deprived other employees of compensation in a similar manner.  TriWire denies this.  Mr. Toy alleges that Comcast knew TriWire failed to adequately compensate and that it was using TriWire to gain an unfair competitive advantage in the market.  Therefore, Mr. Toy argues, Comcast should face liability under the California Unfair Competition Law (UCL) since it aided and abettted TriWire's violation of wage and hour laws in order to obtain an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

Judge Illston disagreed.  She noted that UCL does allow for aider and abetter liability but only in cases of intentional torts or fraud.  Here, Mr. Toy failed to plead either of those so she dismissed Comcast from the suit.  However, the suit against TriWire will go into discovery.

The case is Toy v. Triwire Eng'g Solutions, No. C 10-1929 and the order is below the jump.

Here is the order:
Toy v. TriWire Engineering Solutions

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