Walsh v. IKON Office Solutions, Inc., 56 Cal. Rptr. 3d 534 (Ct. App. 2007)

The trial court in this case initially granted the plaintiffs’ motion to certify a subclass of account managers who had been treated as exempt employees under the outside salesperson exemption. However, almost a year later, a different judge granted IKON’s motion to decertify the subclass on the ground that “common issues of law and fact do not predominate… as the circumstances of each class member’s employment differs significantly from every other member of the class.” Relying on Sav-On Drug Stores, Inc. v. Superior Court, 34 Cal. 4th 319 (2004) and other cases, the Court of Appeal gave “great deference to the trial court’s certification order” and affirmed the order granting the employer’s motion to decertify the class. Among other things, the Court evaluated the differences in the subclass members’ work circumstances and how they approached their jobs. Cf. Belaire-West Landscape, Inc. v. Superior Court, 2007 WL 1039547 (Cal. Ct. App. 2007) (opt-out notice adequately protected privacy rights of current and former employees who were putative class members); Savaglio v. Wal- Mart, 2007 WL 1041403 (Cal. Ct. App. 2007) (employer in unpaid meal and rest break case waived its right to file motion to seal confidential documents when it publicly filed those documents with the Court of Appeal in connection with writ proceeding).