In Kettenring v. Los Angeles Unified School District, (— Cal.Rptr.3d —, 2008 WL 4516648, Cal.App. 2 Dist, Oct. 9, 2008), a California Court of Appeal considered whether a school district violated state minimum wage laws in compensating adult education teachers because the district did not pay the teachers for additional time spent outside of the classroom preparing for class and grading materials. The Court of Appeal held that the adult education teachers, who are paid a regular periodic amount figured by multiplying a flat hourly rate for each hour of classroom teaching, fall within the professional exemption to Wage Order 4-2001, which provides that an employer must pay employees not less than the minimum wage for all hours worked.
Ernest Kettenring, who is an adult education teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District (“District”), brought a lawsuit against District on behalf of himself and other adult education teachers. Kettenring alleged that District’s compensation structure for adult education teachers violates state minimum wage laws. District pays adult education teachers a regular periodic amount, identified by the collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) as a “salary,” which is figured by multiplying an hourly rate of pay by the number of hours spent teaching in the classroom. The CBA provides that adult education teachers who are assigned to work more than ten hours per week are within the bargaining unit.
Adult education teachers are required to be on site at least ten minutes before their first class and stay at least ten minutes after their last class of the day. Adult education teachers, like other teachers, are also required to spend time outside of the classroom preparing and planning for class, grading student materials, and participating in District programs. Kettenring claims that these District requirements compel him and other adult education teachers to work without pay.
Education Code section 45025 provides that part-time employees must be compensated in “an amount which bears the same ratio to the amount provided full-time employees as the time actually served by such part-time employees bears to the time actually served by full-time employees of the same grade or assignment.” Section 45025, however, does not apply to those persons classified as temporary employees.
Kettenring claims that section 45025 requires that the pay of part-time adult education teachers must be proportionate to their full-time counterparts “and that paying part-time adult-education teachers by the hour for classroom instruction only means that their wages are not proportionate.” The trial court held that Kettenring failed to prove that District violated section 45025.
The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision. First, the court addressed Kettenring’s claim that District violated both Labor Code section 1197 and Wage Order No. 4-2001 because it failed to pay adult education teachers at least the hourly minimum wage for the time the teachers worked outside the classroom.
Labor Code section 1197 authorizes employees who receive less than the minimum wage to bring lawsuits against their employers. California Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order 4-2001 provides that an employer must pay minimum wage for all hours worked, but also provides a professional exemption from this requirement. This exemption applies to licensed and certified teachers who earn a monthly salary that is not less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.
Kettenring, however, claimed that adult education teachers are not paid a true “salary.” The court disagreed concluding that these teachers are paid a salary and are exempt under Wage Order 4-2001. The court stated, “The fact that the CBA takes into consideration as part of the calculation a negotiated hourly rate does not make it other than a salary.”
The court also concluded that the Education Code does not prohibit the pay structure utilized by District for part-time adult education employees. District contended that part-time adult education employees are temporary employees who are exempt from the proportionality requirements of section 45025. The court agreed. Education Code section 44929.5 provides that “any person who is employed to teach adults for not more than 60 percent of the hours per week considered a full-time assignment for permanent employees having comparable duties shall be classified as a temporary employee.” Part-time adult education teachers are those who teach up to 18 hours per week. A full-time assignment under the CBA is 30 hours per week. The part-time employees at issue here do not work more than 60 percent of the hours of full time employees and, therefore, are temporary employees who are not subject to the proportionality requirement of section 45025.
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