Legal Question in Employment Law in California

My wife sued in small claims court for money owed to her by someone who hired her as a house manager. After one week (41 hours) she was given excuses why they could not pay her that day and again on the following day. She was let go with the excuse that she did not work all the hours she claimed. In this line of business employees don't clock in and out. My wife could not prove to the judge she was there the hours she claimed so she was not awarded what she wanted $820 for 41 hours plus 30 day penalty for with holding pay under labor law. Judge did not take all evidence into account once the defendant started crying. She was awarded $400 no penalty. Can she now sue in civil limited where judge may look at case more in detail? Or is our only option the labor board.

Asked on 6/17/13, 5:25 pm

4 Answers from Attorneys

Christie Asselin Christie Asselin

In my opinion, her option would be to appeal the small claims action, which is heard before a limited court judge. She needs to file an appeal from the judgment. Then there will be a trial de novo which basically means the court will hear all the evidence again. It's just like a trial. Note, though, that the court, on appeal, can do whatever it wants including finding in favor of the other side. New arguments and new evidence can be heard. Also note that you have a limited amount of time to file the appeal. Your county should have a small claims adviser who you can reach over the phone and speak to about the process. You may also use an attorney at the small claims appeal. In fact, it's probably advisable. Best of luck to you!

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Answered on 6/17/13, 5:43 pm

Timothy McCormick Libris Solutions - Dispute Resolution Services

The plaintiff cannot appeal a Small Claims judgment as a matter of law. Once you choose to sue in Small Claims Court you get your one bite at the apple and that is it. Likewise, that judgment is final an conclusive on all issues in the case. You not only cannot now sue in Limited Jurisdiction, you cannot go to the Labor Board either.

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Answered on 6/17/13, 5:53 pm
Charles Perry Law Offices of Charles R. Perry

I agree with Mr. McCormick. A victorious plaintiff in small claims court has no right of appeal, even if the judgment is smaller than desired. The small claims judgment is res judicata as to that cause of action, and the cause of action cannot be alleged and pursued in a second piece of litigation.

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Answered on 6/18/13, 12:17 am
John Laurie Gertz and Laurie

I to think Mr McCormick is correct.

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Answered on 6/18/13, 11:28 pm

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