Procedural Posture

Plaintiff, a worker employed by a franchisee of defendant franchisor, appealed a summary judgment from the Superior Court of Imperial County (California), which ruled that the franchisor had no liability under the unfair competition law, Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200 et seq., for alleged violations of California Labor Code wage statutes.

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The franchisor provided payroll services to its franchisees. It prepared paychecks based on information provided by each franchisee about the hourly rate and number of hours worked by the franchisee’s employees. The worker alleged that the calculation of hours under the franchisor’s payroll system was unlawful and unfair, but her complaint did not cite any specific statute as having been violated. The court held that the worker forfeited her argument with regard to her claim of unlawfulness because she cited the relevant wage statutes for the first time on appeal, did not allege in her complaint any statutory predicate, and did not seek leave to amend her complaint. The unfair practice claim, based on the public policy in favor of full payment to employees for all hours worked, also failed because the franchisor exercised no control over the franchisee’s employees and thus was not an employer. No generally applicable rule of law imposed on anyone other than an employer a duty to pay wages. Although the complaint included a standard allegation of agency, the worker did not raise an agency theory in opposition to the franchisor’s motion for summary judgment.


The court affirmed the judgment.