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 contractor rather than an employee. The purported independent contractor agreement was later replaced with an employment agreement under which only one of the named plaintiffs had worked. The trial court denied class certification, but the Court of Appeal reversed the order except with respect to plaintiffs’ claims for alleged off-the-clock violations as to which the court held class certification was properly denied. As for the meal and rest break and unpaid overtime claims, the Court distinguished Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, 53 Cal. 4th 1004 (2012) and held that under this employer’s “uniform practice, none of the workers was provided, or given authorization to take, the required meal or rest breaks” because they had been treated as “independent contractors.” Thus, class certification was improperly denied as to those claims. Cf. Barnes, Crosby, Fitzgerald & Zeman v. Ringler, 2012 WL 6633855 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012) (attorney may be equitably estopped from claiming a fee-sharing agreement is unenforceable where the attorney is responsible for non-compliance with the rules requiring informed written consent from the client).