CA state labor laws for automotive technicians

Asked over 5 years ago - Modesto, CA

I have a legal/business ethics question. I was offered a management position with an automotive repair chain to run a shop and began my training. During the course of the training on my first day, my boss stated that when the labor for repairs is discounted for customers, I need to also reduce the number of flat-rate hours paid to the technicians. His reason was that "since we're not being paid, neither are they", which does not make much sense to me because the tech still does the same job regardless of what the shop charges. As a former technician myself, I was paid a flat-rate for each job as designated by a published labor guide and the only way I would work without accumulating flat-rate hours was if I had to re-do a previous job due to a defect in my work, or was back-flagged flat-rate hours for messing up a repair. The techs in this company are paid a base hourly rate, then it increases once they reach certain productivity (flat-rate hours) goals. Example: $15/hour base pay, increases to $17/hour if tech performs 30 flat-rate hours in a week, and $18/hour at 35 hours, $19/hour at 40 flat-rate hours. I am uncertain as to whether or not this is illegal in the state of California, but I felt uncomfortable enough to decline any further employment with this company due to the blatant disregard for the well-being and financial security of its employees. Also, the check I receved for the one day of training was $10 less than the pay I had agreed to with the manager, which I see as a sign of how the employees are valued, or rather NOT valued. My basic question is this: with the technicians paid by the example I described above, is it illegal to short them on flat-rate hours when a service writer makes the choice to give a customer a discount, and yet the technician is still expected to perform the same job? If I was a technician wih this company, and I fell an hour or two shy of getting my hourly wage boosted a dollar or two per hour because the guy at the front counter cut my flat-rate hours to sell a job, I would quit.

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Alden Jay Knisbacher

    Contributor Level 11

    Answered . California labor law makes it illegal to deduct "cost of business" expenses from employee wages, especially if that fact is not disclosed to the employees (although it may be illegal even if disclosure is made.) The affected employees may have a valid claim to the wages that were deducted -- for four years from the date of filing in court.

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