Under California Labor Code §226(a), California employers are required to provide wage statements to employees that contain 9 different pieces of information. One of the requirements is that the wage statement must show “the name and address of the legal entity that is the employer.” Given the statute’s use of the term “legal entity,” most California employment lawyers advise clients to show their formal, legal name on their paychecks and wage statements.
But is that required? Can a wage statement show the employer’s fictitious business name (or DBA name) rather than their full, legal name without violating Labor Code §226(a)? “Yes,” said the Court in Savea v. YRC, Inc.
In Savea v. YRC, Inc., the plaintiff sued his employer when he was given a wage statement that showed the employer’s fictitious business name rather than its full, legal name. The employer responded by asking the Court to throw out plaintiff’s lawsuit. The employer argued that its fictitious business name was, in fact, its proper legal name because the employer had previously filed and recorded a fictitious business name statement in each county in which the employer did business. Moreover, the employer had always timely renewed its fictitious business name statements, so they were all current and valid at the time of plaintiff’s lawsuit.
The Court ruled that this was sufficient under Labor Code §226(a). Where an employer has an accurate and complete fictitious business name statement on file with the clerk of each county in which the employer does business, and where each such statement has been renewed and is current at the time the lawsuit is filed, that fictitious business name is that employer’s proper, legal name, according to the Court. Therefore that employer is in compliance with Labor Code §226(a) if it chooses to show its fictitious business name on its wage statements rather than its full, legal name.
Now you know why your lawyer is always nagging you to complete all that pesky paperwork and file all those mind-numbing forms. Here, a company avoided a lawsuit simply because it had completed a proper fictitious business name statement! Finally, in California employment law — a good deed gets rewarded. Savor this common sense result. It may be a while before we see another one.
You can read the full opinion in Savea v. YRC Inc. here.