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California Employment Law Blog

Category Archives: Class Actions

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Court Properly Enjoined Plaintiffs’ Lawyers From Distributing $5 Million In Fees To Themselves

Posted in Attorney's Fees, Class Actions, Settlement

Lofton v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, 2014 WL 5358364 (Cal. Ct. App. 2014) The Initiative Law Group (“ILG”) represented more than 600 plaintiffs in a class action filed in Los Angeles against Wells Fargo that was initially certified and then was later decertified. After decertification, ILG continued to represent the plaintiffs in their individual lawsuits… Continue Reading

Class Of Insurance Claims Adjusters Was Properly Certified

Posted in Class Actions, Wage and Hour

Jiminez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 765 F.3d 1161 (9th Cir. 2014) Jack Jiminez and approximately 800 other Allstate employees claimed that Allstate has a practice or unofficial policy of requiring its claims adjusters to work unpaid off-the-clock overtime in violation of California law. The district court certified the class with respect to the unpaid overtime,… Continue Reading

Federal Law Does Not Preempt Meal And Rest Break Requirements For Motor Carrier Employees

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

Godfrey v. Oakland Port Servs. Corp., 2014 WL 5439289 (Cal. Ct. App. 2014) Plantiffs Lavon Godfrey and Gary Gilbert initiated this class action against AB Trucking, alleging that AB did not pay its drivers for all hours worked, misclassified some drivers as non-employee trainees whom it did not pay at all, and failed to provide… Continue Reading

Lawful Shmawful: Ninth Circuit Ignores Lawful Written Policy and Uses Statistical Sampling to Certify Class Based on Alleged “Unofficial Policy”

Posted in Class Actions, Off-the-clock Issues, Overtime

On September 3, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld certification of a class of approximately 800 nonexempt insurance claims adjusters who claimed they worked overtime without compensation despite the employer’s lawful written policy to pay nonexempt employees for all hours worked. In Jimenez v. Allstate Ins. Co., the Ninth Circuit upheld… Continue Reading

Employer Properly Deducted Hours From Exempt Employee’s Leave Bank

Posted in Class Actions, Payroll, Vacation or PTO, Wage and Hour

Rhea v. General Atomics, 227 Cal. App. 4th 1560 (2014) Lori Rhea is an exempt employee of General Atomics who receives a salary and accrues comprehensive annual leave (“Annual Leave”) that can be used by employees to take paid time off for any reason, including vacation, sickness, medical appointments, family obligations and leisure pursuits.  The… Continue Reading

Trial Court Should Not Have Denied Class Certification to Employees Seeking Reimbursement for Cell Phone Charges

Posted in Class Actions, Expense Reimbursement

Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Serv., Inc., 2014 WL 3965240 (Cal. Ct. App. 2014) Colin Cochran filed this putative class action on behalf of himself and 1,500 similarly situated customer service managers who were not reimbursed for expenses pertaining to the work-related use of their personal cell phones.  The trial court denied class certification to the… Continue Reading

Commission Wages Paid In One Pay Period May Not Be Attributed To Other Pay Periods In Order To Satisfy Minimum Wage Requirements

Posted in Class Actions, Commission Payments, Overtime, Wage and Hour

Peabody v. Time Warner Cable, Inc., 59 Cal. 4th 662 (2014) Susan Peabody worked as a commissioned salesperson for Time Warner Cable, Inc. (“TWC”).  Peabody regularly worked 45 hours per week but received no overtime.  TWC considered Peabody and the other members of the putative class to be subject to the commissioned employee exemption under California… Continue Reading

FedEx Drivers Are Employees Not Independent Contractors

Posted in Class Actions, Independent Contractors, Wage and Hour

Alexander v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc., 2014 WL 4211107 (9th Cir. 2014) In this class action the named plaintiffs represent approximately 2,300 individuals who were full-time delivery drivers for FedEx in California between 2000 and 2007.  FedEx characterizes its drivers as independent contractors in its Operating Agreement.  Similar cases to this one were filed… Continue Reading

Trial Court Must Determine Whether Action Challenging Independent Contractor Status Could Proceed As A Class Action

Posted in Class Actions, Independent Contractors

Ayala v. Antelope Valley Newspapers, Inc., 2014 WL 2924954 (Cal. S. Ct. 2014) 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

Class Action Plaintiffs Must Develop A Trial Plan That May Include Statistical Sampling

Posted in Class Actions, Exempt Employees, Meal Periods and Rest Breaks, Overtime, PAGA, Wage and Hour

Duran v. U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n, 59 Cal. 4th 1 (2014) Plaintiffs in this case are loan officers for U.S. Bank (“USB”) who claim they were misclassified as exempt employees under the outside salesperson exemption. After certifying a class of 260 plaintiffs, the trial court devised a plan to determine the extent of USB’s liability… Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Leaves Unanswered Questions in Independent Contractor Case

Posted in Class Actions, Independent Contractors

On Monday, June 30, 2014, the California Supreme Court handed down its decision in Ayala v. Antelope Valley Newspapers, a lawsuit brought on behalf of a group of newspaper delivery carriers who alleged that they had been misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees.  The trial court had initially denied certification, finding that common issues… Continue Reading

Employers Should Now Run—Not Walk—Toward Adopting Arbitration Agreements in California

Posted in Arbitration Agreements, Class Actions, NLRA, PAGA

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Iskanian v. CLS Transp. Los Angeles, LLC, upholding class action waivers in employment arbitration agreements. This means that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2011 opinion in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion is to be given full force and effect in the employment setting in California. That… Continue Reading

California Courts May No Longer Be Able to Certify a Ham Sandwich

Posted in Class Actions, Exempt Employees, FLSA, Meal Periods and Rest Breaks, PAGA, Wage and Hour

Commentators have quipped that class certification is so easy in California that with little effort a group of plaintiffs could certify even a ham sandwich.  In fact, as we have discussed here, we have seen a proliferation of recent appellate decisions hinging class certification on the mere existence of an employer’s uniform policy – no… Continue Reading

PAGA Action Should Have Been Remanded To State Court

Posted in Class Actions, Federal Jurisdiction, PAGA, Wage and Hour

Baumann v. Chase Inv. Servs., 2014 WL 983587 (9th Cir. 2014) Joseph Baumann sued his employer, Chase Investment Services Corporation, under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”), alleging claims for unpaid overtime, meal breaks and rest periods and timely expense reimbursements. Baumann further alleged his potential share of any recovery and attorney’s fees would be… Continue Reading

Rebuking “Trial by Formula,” Federal Court Decertifies Rule 23(b)(3) Class Action

Posted in Class Actions, Off-the-clock Issues, Wage and Hour

In Stiller v. Costco Wholesale Corp., No. 3:09-cv-2473-GPC-BGS, Plaintiffs Eric Stiller and Joseph Moro alleged that Costco’s loss-prevention closing procedures effectively “forced” employees to work off-the clock without getting paid because they were required to remain on-site after they had clocked out of their shifts to go through security screenings. In December 2010, the district court… Continue Reading

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