This guide will address some of the advantages of using California Business & Professions Code section 17200, also known as California "Unfair Competition Law" (UCL), in employment lawsuits.
The rule against "unfair" and "deceptive" practices can be broad
Even where no law expressly exists to prohibit certain business practices, UCL's rule against "unfair" and "deceptive" practice can be used by a plaintiff who wishes to sue a business for an unfair business practice. Plaintiffs have successfully used the UCL to recover damages against a business where no cause of action would otherwise exist.
A violation of employment laws can result in a violation of the UCL
California Courts have routinely held that the UCL applies to conduct violating state or federal employment laws. For example, in employment cases, an employer who violates antidiscrimination laws *implicates unfair competition* because it may gain an unfair competitive edge over employers who comply with such laws. (Herr v. Nestle U.S.A., Inc. (2003) 109 Cal.App.4th 779, 789 [employer engaging in age discrimination in violation of FEHA may have advantage over competitors who do not discriminate]; see also Alch v. Superior Court , (2004) 122 Cal.App.4th 339 [age discrimination that violates FEHA also violates the UCL, Bus & Prof. Code * 17200].)
UCL will extend the statute of limitation for certain wage and hour claims
The UCL will extend the statute of limitation for certain wage and hour claims. For example, plaintiffs have used the UCL to extend the statute of limitations for meal and rest break claims to four years.
As supported by Murphy v. Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc., 155 P.3d 284, 297 (Cal. 2007), meal and rest break premiums are wages and, therefore, are subject to restitution under UCL. As a result, courts have ruled that meal and rest period violations under UCL have a four-year statute of limitations and recognized that *UCL*s four year statute of limitations applies to the UCL claims even if there is a different and shorter statue [sic] of limitations on the borrowed statute.* (Savaglio v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Super. Ct. Alameda County, 2004, No. C-835687 2004 WL 2034092, at *9, citing Cortez, supra, 23 Cal.4th at 178-179; see The Zhang v. Amgen, Inc., Super.Ct. Ventura County, 2012, No. 56201200420162 WL 11983610, 4 [denying motion to strike and ruling allegation of UCL based on failure to provide meal and rest breaks was proper]; see Choi v. Hyundae Health Center, Inc., Cal.Super. Los Angeles County, 2015, No. BC450378 2015 WL 10551778, 10 [applying a four-year statute of limitations on meal and rest break violations under UCL].)
UCL claims allow for creative lawyering
A lot of the law surrounding UCL is unsettled. Therefore, there is a great deal of latitude for creative lawyering.
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