Combs v. Skyriver Communications, Inc., 159 Cal. App. 4th 1242 (2008)

Mark Combs sued his former employer, Skyriver Communications, and Skyriver’s former interim CEO, Massih Tayebi, for violations of the California Labor Code, the Unfair Competition Law and the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004. Combs, who was employed as the manager of capacity planning and later as the director of network operations, alleged he had been misclassified as an exempt employee. The trial court granted Tayebi’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed Combs’ remaining claims in response to Skyriver’s motion for nonsuit. As part of his case in chief, Combs produced evidence that he was responsible for maintaining, developing and improving Skyriver’s computer network. Although he supervised “one or two employees,” Combs testified he spent the majority of his time performing the same functions as the employees who reported to him. The Court of Appeal affirmed dismissal, holding that the “administrative-production worker dichotomy” was inapplicable in this case because Combs performed “specialized functions” that were unlike the “routine and unimportant” functions performed by the insurance claims representatives in Bell v. Farmers Ins. Exch., 87 Cal. App. 4th 805 (2001).