Diaz v. Grill Concepts: Ignorance Is (No Longer) Bliss

In May of 2018, a California appellate court handed down an important decision clarifying employers’ liability for waiting time penalties. In Diaz v. Grill Concepts Services, Inc., No. B280846 (2d District, May 24, 2018) (slip op. available here), the Second Appellate District affirmed a judgment in favor of a certified class of employees, finding that an employer’s failure to investigate a suspected increase in the locally mandated “living wage” rendered its failure to pay that wage willful. Invoking the maxim that “ignorance of the law is no excuse,” Diaz found that an employer’s failure to investigate a change in the local wage scale constituted a “willful” failure to pay, exposing it to waiting time penalties under the California Labor Code. Id. at 10. Diaz also held that courts do not have discretion to relieve the employer from such penalties on equitable grounds. Id. at 18-21. The California Labor Code “waiting…

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