California Court of Appeals, Third District, San Joaquin
from a judgment of the Superior Court of San Joaquin County,
No. STKCVUOE20164072 Roger Ross, Judge.
J. Wasserman, Vladimir J. Kozina and Mayall Hurley P.C. for
Plaintiff and Appellant.
Chamberlin & Keaster LLP, Robert W. Keaster and David M.
Berke for Defendant and Respondent.
Legislature has enacted statutory requirements concerning
itemized wage statements employers must provide employees
along with their paychecks. In this case, Plaintiff Mohammed
Noori sued his former employer, defendant Countrywide Payroll
& HR Solutions, Inc., for violations of those statutory
requirements. He alleged, inter alia, that Countrywide
violated Labor Code section 226, subdivision
(a) by (1) providing wage statements
bearing the acronym “CSSG” in violation of the
requirement to include the “name... of the legal entity
that is the employer”; and (2) failing to maintain
copies of accurate itemized wage statements. Noori also
sought to bring those claims under the Private Attorneys
General Act (PAGA). The trial court granted Countrywide's
demurrer to the first amended complaint without leave to
appeal, Noori contends the trial court erred in finding (1)
the wage statements provided to Noori, as a matter of law,
complied with section 226, subdivision (a)(8)'s
requirement to include the employer's name; (2)
Countrywide maintained copies of wage statements as required
by section 226, subdivision (a); and (3) Noori failed to
satisfy the notice requirement for bringing a claim under
conclude the amended complaint states a claim under section
226, subdivision (a)(8) for failure to provide the
employer's name. Noori's allegation that
Countrywide's wage statements bore only the acronym
“CSSG, ” an abbreviation of a fictitious business
name, adequately supports this claim. We also conclude Noori
satisfied the notice requirement for bringing that claim
under PAGA. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's
orders as to those two causes of action.
the failure to maintain copies of accurate itemized wage
statements claim, we affirm the trial court's order
granting the demurrer without leave to amend because
Noori's complaint fails to assert facts supporting the
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
First Amended Complaint
a successful demurrer, Noori filed an amended complaint
alleging Countrywide violated section 226, subdivision (a) by
(1) failing to furnish “accurate itemized wage
statements” (the “failure to furnish
claim”); and (2) failing to maintain copies of accurate
itemized wage statements (the “failure to maintain
claim”). He also sought class certification, as well as
to bring the claims under PAGA (§ 2698).
Failure to Furnish Claim
his first claim, Noori alleged that in 2015, he began working
for Countrywide. Countrywide furnished him wage statements
that listed the employer of record as “CSSG.”
Noori alleged that based on research, CSSG stood for
“Countrywide Staffing Solutions Group, ” which is
not a name listed with the California Secretary of state, but
is a fictitious business name for defendant Countrywide
Payroll & HR Solutions, Inc. “at least in some
States.” He further alleged that, based on
research, Countrywide Staffing Solutions Group, Inc. operates
under the fictitious business name of “Countrywide
HR” or “CWHR” in California.
alleged the wage statements violated section 226, subdivision
(a)(8) by failing to show the name of his
employer. He further alleged that he and other
employees “suffered injury as a result of
Defendant's knowing and intentional failure to comply
with Labor Code section 226(a).” He maintained that he
and other employees were injured, under section 226
subdivision (e)(2), because they were unable to
“promptly and easily determine ‘the name... of
the legal entity' ” from the furnished statements.
Failure to Maintain Claim
his second claim, Noori alleged that prior to his suit, he
wrote to Countrywide, requesting copies of his “payroll
records, personnel records and personnel file.”
Countrywide, in response, provided records that failed to
show the employer's name and address. Based on this, he
alleged that Countrywide violated section 226 subdivision
(a)'s requirement to maintain a copy of accurate itemized
Private Attorney General Act Allegations
to also bring the above claims under PAGA, Noori alleged that
he satisfied PAGA's statutory notice requirement by
sending a letter to Countrywide and the Labor and Workforce
Development Agency notifying them of the specific Labor Code
provisions violated and facts and theories in support. Noori
then brought suit after the agency did not provide notice
that it intended to sue.
demurred to the amended complaint arguing neither of the
first two causes of action stated a claim. As to the failure
to furnish claim, Countrywide argued each wage statement
identified the employer as CSSG, an acronym for Countrywide
Staffing Solutions Group, a fictious business name of
Countrywide. Countrywide maintained that the use of a
fictious business name is proper, and it need not state its
complete name. And, in any event, the checks attached to the
wage statement provided the complete name.
the failure to maintain claim, Countrywide argued inter alia
that Noori could not allege damages. It contended that unlike
a claim for a failure to furnish statutorily compliant wage
statements - where injury is deemed from the failure to
provide certain information - a record-keeping claim requires
an allegation of actual injury.
also asked that the PAGA claims be struck for failure to
provide proper notice.
Trial Court's Ruling on the Demurrer
trial court sustained the demurrer. It found the first
amended complaint failed to allege a section 226 subdivision
(a)(8) violation because “CSSG” satisfied the
statutory name requirement as a matter of law. It noted that
truncated names have been held to suffice, and unlike cases
where a subdivision (a)(8) violation had been found,
Countrywide's wage statements included both a name and an
address. And because “CSSG” had not
violated section 226, subdivision (a)(8), the failure to
maintain claim - itself grounded on the failure to state the
employer's name - also failed.
court noted those failures rendered the PAGA claims moot. It
nevertheless ruled that, as to the PAGA claims, Noori had
failed to provide proper notice.
Failure to Furnish Wage ...