LaCoursiere v. CamWest Development Inc., 181 Wn.2d 734,? 339 P.3d 963 (2014) (view WEbriefbriefLA’s )
In this case interpreting the Washington Wage Statutes, the Supreme Court today unanimously reversed a Court of Appeals decision and decided that an employer could not recover attorney fees based upon an employment contract where the Plaintiff makes no claim on the contract and the claim is exclusively grounded in the Wage Rebate Act. The Supreme Court also affirmed the fundamental rule of law that once work is actually performed, “bonuses” are earned “wages” within the meaning of both the Wage Rebate Act and Minimum Wage Act. The bonus was due by reason of employment.
Although a majority of the Court found that the rebate statute had not been violated, that ruling was based on its conclusion that in this case the party collecting the rebated wages did not originate the payment. This conclusion, in turn, is based upon the complicated nature of the contract which is not likely to re-occur very often.
Justice Gonzales dissented in part, joined by Justices Stephens, C. Johnson and J. Johnson. Justice Gonzales argued that the majority confused the wage rebate claim with a claim for withholding wages. He also disagreed that the record sufficiently established that the entity receiving the rebated wages was separate from the entity which originated the payment. Lindsay Halm and Joe Shaeffer wrote the amicus brief on behalf of WELA.