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Molina v. Oilfield Production Contractors, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

December 29, 2017

EUGENE MOLINA
v.
OILFIELD PRODUCTION CONTRACTORS, INC.

         On Appeal from the Thirty-Second Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of Terrebonne State of Louisiana No. 176426 Honorable George J. Larke, Jr., Judge Presiding

          Christopher L. Williams New Orleans, LA Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant Eugene Molina

          Vincent Dagate, Jr. Houma, LA Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant Eugene Molina Counsel for Defendant/ Appellee Oilfield Production Contractors, Inc.

          BEFORE: McCLENDON, WELCH, AND THE RIOT, 33.

          MCCLENDON, J.

         A former employee appeals a trial court judgment ordering payment of vacation leave by his former employer, but failing to award the employee penalty wages and attorney's fees. For the following reasons, we amend the judgment, and as amended, affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Eugene Molina was employed by Oilfield Production Contractors, Inc. ("OPC") as a lead operator until he was terminated by OPC on July 23, 2015. On February 16, 2016, Mr. Molina filed a Rule to Show Cause seeking to hold OPC liable for failing to pay forty-four hours of accrued vacation pay allegedly owed him, as well as penalty wages, attorney's fees, and costs. OPC answered Mr. Molina's rule, asserting that he had been paid in full for the three vacation days earned at the time of his termination.

         Following a hearing, the trial court found that Mr. Molina was owed $244.76, representing .89 days of pay. However, the trial court concluded that OPC had not acted in bad faith, and it denied Mr. Molina's claim for penalties and attorney's fees.

         Mr. Molina has appealed, asserting that the trial court erred in concluding that he was entitled to only .89 days of vacation pay, and by refusing to award penalty wages and attorney's fees.

         DISCUSSION

         The Louisiana Wage Payment Act, LSA-R.S. 23:631, et seq., is designed to compel prompt payment of earned wages upon an employee's discharge or resignation. Davis v. St. Francisville Country Manor, LLC, 13-0190 (La.App. 1 Or. 11/01/13) 136 So.3d 20, 22. Specifically, LSA-R.S. 23;63l(A)(1)(b) provides that upon resignation of an employee, the employer shall pay the employee "the amount then due under the terms of employment" on or before the earlier of the next regular pay day or fifteen days following the employee's discharge. For purposes of LSA-R.S. 23;63l(A), wages are equivalent to the "amount then due under the terms of employment, " i.e., wages, or compensation, earned during a pay period. Davis, 136 So.3d at 22. Subsection D(1) addresses vacation pay and provides as follows:

For purposes of this Section, vacation pay will be considered an amount then due only if, in accordance with the stated vacation policy of the person employing such laborer or other employee, both of the following apply:
(a)The laborer or other employee is deemed eligible for and has accrued the right to take ...

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