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California Employment Law Blog

Category Archives: Class Actions

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March 2014 California Employment Law Notes

Posted in Attorney's Fees, Class Actions, Collective Bargaining, Employment Law Notes, FEHA, FMLA, Harassment, Kin Care, Leaves of Absence, Overtime, Privacy, Retaliation, Sexual Harassment, Wage and Hour, Whistleblowers, Wrongful Termination

$150,000 Sexual Harassment Verdict And $680,000 Fee Award Affirmed Taylor v. Nabors Drilling USA, LP, 222 Cal. App. 4th 1228 (2014) Max Taylor worked as a floorhand on an oil rig where he alleged he was harassed by his supervisors who called him “queer,” “fagot [sic],” “homo,” and “gay porn star” and was subjected to… Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Clarifies CAFA Removal Requirements

Posted in Class Actions, Federal Jurisdiction

In its recent per curiam opinion in Rea v. Michaels Stores, Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit clarified rules and procedures relevant to defendants seeking to remove cases to federal court. In Rea, the plaintiffs filed a class action alleging that Michaels improperly classified California store managers as exempt from overtime. Michaels removed… Continue Reading

D.R. Horton and the Arbitration Hotchpotch: Emerging “Rules” and the Future of Compelled Arbitration in California

Posted in Arbitration Agreements, Class Actions, NLRA

Horton Hears an Employer Victory Last December, the Fifth Circuit issued its long-awaited decision in D.R. Horton, Inc. v. NLRB, holding that employers may require employees to sign arbitration agreements categorically waiving the right to pursue employment claims in a collective or class action. In doing so, the Fifth Circuit’s rejected the NLRB’s opinion that… Continue Reading

California Appellate Court Affirms Denial Of Class Certification

Posted in Class Actions, Meal Periods and Rest Breaks, Off-the-clock Issues

As we recently reported here, there have been a number of appellate decisions ordering class certification based on the existence of an employer’s companywide policy – all while overlooking numerous individualized questions that would undoubtedly create manageability problems during trial.  On December 30, 2013, the California Court of Appeal in Johnson v. California Pizza Kitchen,… Continue Reading

California Employers Down, But Not Out, Concerning Class Certification Issues

Posted in Class Actions, Wage and Hour

Shortly after the California Supreme Court issued its 2012 decision in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, employers saw an immediate uptick in appellate court decisions supporting the denial of class certification to plaintiffs in wage and hour lawsuits. Today, the opposite seems to be true: appellate courts are reversing decisions denying class certification and… Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Invalidates Attempt To Plead Around CAFA’s Jurisdictional Amount In Controversy

Posted in Class Actions, Federal Jurisdiction

In 2005, Congress passed the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), which creates federal jurisdiction over class actions involving more than 100 class members and $5 million in controversy. Plaintiffs have long attempted to avoid CAFA’s invocation of federal jurisdiction by stipulating to no more than $5 million in classwide damages. In Standard Fire Ins. Co…. Continue Reading

California Further Restricts Employer Recovery of Prevailing Party Attorney’s Fees

Posted in Attorney's Fees, Class Actions, Commission Payments, New and Proposed Laws and Legislation, Wage and Hour

California has amended Labor Code § 218.5 to limit the circumstances under which an employer may recover its attorney’s fees and costs as the prevailing party in a lawsuit in which an employee has sued for nonpayment of wages, fringe benefits, or health and welfare or pension fund contributions (SB 462).  Prior to enactment of Senate Bill 462, the prevailing… Continue Reading

Second Circuit Reaffirms Enforceability of Arbitration Agreements Containing Collective Action Waivers In Two FLSA Cases

Posted in Arbitration Agreements, Class Actions, Employment Contracts, FAA, FLSA, Wage and Hour

Two recent decisions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit have reaffirmed the enforceability of employment-related arbitration agreements containing class action waivers. In Sutherland v. Ernst & Young and Raniere v. Citigroup, Inc. the Second Circuit held that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) requires courts to enforce a valid agreement to arbitrate… Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Emphasizes Importance of Common Issues in Class Actions

Posted in Class Actions, News, Off-the-clock Issues, Overtime, Supreme Court, Wage and Hour

Over the past two weeks, the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly underscored the importance of having common questions that are susceptible to common answers in cases where plaintiffs are seeking class certification. Most recently, the Court clarified that this requirement, which has now been considered in both antitrust and employment cases, applies with respect… Continue Reading

Reporters’ Class Action For Unpaid Overtime Should Not Have Been Certified

Posted in Class Actions, Employment Law Notes, FLSA

Wang v. Chinese Daily News, 2013 WL 781715 (9th Cir. 2013) Plaintiffs (reporters for the Chinese Daily News) alleged they were non-exempt employees entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and California state law. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the reporters, finding journalists are not subject to… Continue Reading

Arbitration Clauses Are Enforceable Despite Waiver Of Classwide Arbitration Rights

Posted in Arbitration Agreements, Class Actions

Flores v. West Covina Auto Group, 2013 WL 139200 (Cal. App. Jan. 11, 2013) Israel Flores and Andrea Naasz sued West Covina Toyota (WCT) and Toyota Motor Sales for selling them a “lemon,” alleging both individual and class action claims, including claims for violations of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA).  WCT filed a motion… Continue Reading

Certification Was Properly Denied In Class Action Seeking Reimbursement From Employer

Posted in Class Actions, Employment Law Notes, Employment Policies, Expense Reimbursement

Morgan v. Wet Seal, Inc., 210 Cal. App. 4th 1341 (2012) Crystal Morgan and two other former employees sued Wet Seal because the company allegedly required employees to purchase Wet Seal clothing and merchandise as a condition of employment and also failed to reimburse employees for their mileage between Wet Seal business locations. The trial… Continue Reading

Trial Court Erred In Failing To Certify Class Action For Unpaid Overtime And Meal-And-Rest Breaks

Posted in Class Actions, Employment Contracts, Employment Law Notes, Independent Contractors, Meal Periods and Rest Breaks, Off-the-clock Issues

Bradley v. Networkers Int’l, LLC, 2012 WL 6182473 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012) The three named plaintiffs in this case were among approximately 140 skilled workers retained by Networkers to provide repair and installation services at cell sites. Each worker was required to sign a standard contract, which stated that he or she was an independent… Continue Reading

Trial Court Erred In Part In Failing To Certify Class Of Newspaper Home Delivery Carriers

Posted in Class Actions, Employment Law Notes

Ayala v. Antelope Valley Newspapers, Inc., 2012 WL 4098995 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012) Plaintiffs Maria Ayala, Rosa Duran and Osman Nuñez sought to certify a class of newspaper home delivery carriers in a lawsuit brought against Antelope Valley Newspapers, Inc. (“AVN”), alleging that AVN had improperly classified the carriers as independent contractors rather than employees… Continue Reading

Brinker Dooms Class Certification of Meal and Rest Period Claims

Posted in Class Actions, Meal Periods and Rest Breaks

Plaintiff Rogelio Hernandez brought a putative class action lawsuit for Chipotle’s alleged failure to provide meal and rest breaks to its non-managerial employees pursuant to California Labor Code Section 226.7. The California Court of Appeal held that the Supreme Court’s decision in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (2012) 53 Cal. 4th 1004, precluded class certification… Continue Reading

Appellate Courts Begin To Apply Brinker Decision

Posted in Class Actions, Employment Law Notes, Meal Periods and Rest Breaks, Wage and Hour

Hernandez v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., 2012 WL 3579567 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012) Rogelio Hernandez appealed from the order denying his motion for class certification and granting Chipotle’s motion to deny class certification as to his claims that Chipotle denied non-exempt employees their meal and rest breaks. Chipotle moved to deny class certification on the… Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Certifies Question To California Supreme Court Regarding Commission Exemption

Posted in Class Actions, Commission Payments, Employment Law Notes

Peabody v. Time Warner Cable, Inc., 2012 WL 3538753 (9th Cir. 2012) Susan J. Peabody was employed as a commissioned salesperson by Time Warner Cable (“TWC”) for approximately 10 months. Peabody’s commissions were based on the revenue generated by advertising that was aired every broadcast month, which lasted four or five weeks. Peabody also received… Continue Reading

California Court Criticizes Prior Case Law Invalidating Class Action Waivers, Then Punts To State Supreme Court

Posted in Arbitration Agreements, Class Actions, FAA

Truly Nolen of America v. Superior Court, 2012 WL 3222211 (Aug. 13, 2012) California law involving classwide wage-and-hour arbitration continues to evolve in the aftermath of the United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 131 S. Ct. 1740 (2011), which generally prohibits states from requiring additional due process guarantees (not… Continue Reading

California Court Approves Class Action Waivers In Employment Arbitration Agreements

Posted in Arbitration Agreements, Class Actions, FAA, Wage and Hour

The plaintiff in Iskanian v. CLS Transp. Los Angeles, LLC, brought a putative class action and a representative action under California’s Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) for various wage and hour violations. During his employment, Iskanian agreed that he would not assert class action or representative action claims against his employer and, instead, agreed to submit… Continue Reading

Employers Need Only Provide (Not Ensure) Meal And Rest Breaks

Posted in Class Actions, Employment Law Notes, Meal Periods and Rest Breaks, Off-the-clock Issues, Wage and Hour

Brinker Rest. Corp. v. Superior Court, 53 Cal. 4th 1004 (2012) In this long-awaited opinion, the California Supreme Court determined several important issues of law regarding meal and rest breaks. First and foremost, the Supreme Court determined that “an employer’s obligation is to relieve its employee of all duty, with the employee thereafter at liberty… Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Issues Long Awaited Opinion on Meal and Rest Breaks

Posted in Class Actions, Meal Periods and Rest Breaks, Wage and Hour

This morning, the California Supreme Court issued its long awaited opinion in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court. Taking up two crucial issues that have spawned dozens of class action suits across the state, the Court answered the questions: (1) must an employer merely provide a meal break to employees or must it ensure that… Continue Reading

TV Writers and Proskauer Client CAA Reach Preliminary Agreement to Settle

Posted in Class Actions, Discrimination, News

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and representatives of a class of television writers today announced the settlement of a case alleging age discrimination in the representation of television writers. The case was the last of 23 separate class actions that were filed a decade ago by the writers against the major television networks, production studios, and… Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Rejects “Trial by Formula,” Reverses Multimillion Dollar Verdict and Orders Class Decertified

Posted in Class Actions, Exempt Employees, Overtime, Wage and Hour

Duran v. U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n, No. A125557, 2012 WL 366590 (Feb. 6, 2012) In a decision destined to have significant statewide ramifications, the California Court of Appeal for the First District reversed a trial court’s certification of a wage-hour class and determination of liability, concluding that the trial court had failed to follow “established… Continue Reading