Alberts v. Aurora Behavioral Health Care, 2015 WL 6121981 (Cal. Ct. App. 2015)

Valerie Alberts and others, formerly employed as members of the nursing staff at two acute care psychiatric hospitals owned and operated by Aurora, claimed that Aurora’s uniform practices and de facto policies routinely denied nursing staff employees their meal and rest periods and overtime payments. Plaintiffs sought class certification on behalf of approximately 1,053 putative class members. The trial court denied class certification on the ground that plaintiffs’ motion relied too heavily “on anecdotal evidence to prove the existence of a systematic violation of overtime and break laws.” The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that there is substantial evidence of understaffing that resulted in a denial of breaks to the class. The Court further held that reversal was required with respect to the overtime and off-the-clock compensation claims. As for the meal and rest break claims, the Court determined it was unclear from the record whether common issues predominated over individual ones. The Court remanded the remaining claims regarding certification of subclasses for waiting time penalties and inaccurate itemized wage statements for further consideration regarding predominance and manageability. See also Tellez v. Rich Voss Trucking, Inc., 240 Cal. App. 4th 1052 (2015) (denial of class certification reversed in absence of trial court’s explanation for same).