IR #2011-25
November 29, 2011

Erika Monterroza
Dean Fryer
(510) 286-1161


CA Labor Commissioner reaches settlement of over $580,000 in ZipRealty wage case

Bakersfield CA —California State Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su reached a settlement totaling $586,068.54 in four wage cases filed to recover unpaid minimum wages and overtime pay for ZipRealty agents in Bakersfield. The settlement was reached before ZipRealty’s motion for new trial was to be heard in Kern County Superior Court last Tuesday.

The California Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR) Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, headed by the State Labor Commissioner, originally heard this case on October 27, 2010, in the administrative process following the filing of wage claims for nonpayment of minimum wage and overtime by four ZipRealty agents.

“Real estate traditionally is not known as a low wage industry. In the current economy we have seen a change in scenario where real estate agents may earn less than the minimum wage,” said DIR Acting Director Christine Baker. “Employers who previously were not concerned with minimum wage issues are now put on notice to ensure they are providing those basic protections to workers.”

This settlement requires that each of the four agents are immediately paid 100% of their judgment which totaled over $330,000 plus an additional $25,000 each, for a total payout of $430,202. In addition, the settlement includes payment by ZipRealty of $155,866 in attorney’s fees and expenses payable to the Labor Commissioner.

“This resolution reflects the strength of the evidence and the law supporting these four workers’ claims for minimum wage and overtime pay that was owed to them,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su. “The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement will now pursue with equal determination the lawsuit filed in September for hundreds of other ZipRealty employees statewide, who are entitled to compensation for their work.”

The settlement follows a decision issued by Kern County Superior Court Judge Stephen Schuett on September 1 in favor of four ZipRealty agents who had filed wage claims with the Labor Commissioner in Bakersfield. The Court’s decision quadrupled the amounts previously awarded the agents to over $330,000 in damages and interest. ZipRealty responded by filing a motion for a new trial on November 1. However, last week’s settlement ends the litigation in Kern County.

“The decision of the Kern County Superior Court will not be binding in the new litigation, but the analysis of the Bakersfield court is extremely compelling and we believe that there will be a similar result in the case pending in Alameda County,” added Su.

Labor Commissioner Su filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Alameda County on September 26 to recover unpaid wages and overtime for ZipRealty agents throughout California.

California’s minimum wage laws were first established in 1937 and employers are currently required to pay employees the state minimum wage of $8.00.

The California Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement adjudicates wage claims, investigates discrimination and public works complaints and enforces state labor law.  To learn more about the functions of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, visit our Web site at  Employees with work-related questions or complaints may call the California Workers’ Information Hotline at (866) 924-9757.

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