Craib v. Bulmash

777 P.2d 1120 (1989)


P is charged with enforcing Labor Code provisions (§ 1171 et seq.) and Industrial Welfare Commission (Commission) orders governing wage, hour, and working conditions of California employees. (§ 61.) P has broad investigatory powers (§ 1193.5) and duties (§§ 1195, 1195.5), including the power to issue subpoenas compelling the attendance of witnesses and production of records. (§§ 7, 74.) By statute, '[every] person employing labor in this state' must maintain certain employee identification and payroll records. (§ 1174, subds. (c), (d).) An employer who fails or refuses to maintain and furnish these records is guilty of a misdemeanor. (§ 1175, subds. (a), (d).) Bulmash (D) was appointed trustee for his sister, Serena Gluck (Gluck), and employed attendants to care for her. P issued and served a subpoena duces tecum directing D to appear a month later and to produce time and wage records, and names and addresses, for all persons employed by the trust over the previous three-year period. P stated that the documents were needed to 'verify wages and compute unpaid overtime pay for private household employees covered under Industrial Welfare Commission Order. D failed to appear and P filed an unverified petition in the superior court seeking to enforce the subpoena. P alleged that the subpoena and investigation were authorized under the statutory provisions cited above. The investigation began after a 'former employee' of the trust lodged a complaint against D for 'failure to pay overtime wages as required by Industrial Welfare Commission Order 15-80.' P argued there was 'probable cause' to suspect that D was in violation. No affidavits by the complaining trust employee or by Division staff members supported the foregoing statements. D argued that the subpoena was 'overbroad,' that compliance would be 'burdensome,' and that the records were not 'relevant' to any matter pending before P. D claimed that because the subpoena was issued without 'probable cause,' court-ordered compliance would amount to an 'unlawful search and seizure.' The court ordered D to appear and produce the subpoenaed records. The Court of Appeal reversed the order. The court reasoned that, because 'criminal' sanctions could be imposed for certain wage and hour violations, the subpoena was a 'search' for criminal 'evidence' which must meet the standards applicable to search warrants. It also held that the subpoena would violate D's Fifth Amendment privilege against compulsory self-incrimination. P appealed.