Safeway, Inc. v. Superior Court, 238 Cal. App. 4th 1138 (2015)

Plaintiffs in this class action lawsuit alleged claims against Safeway and Vons for failure to provide meal and rest breaks, failure to provide itemized pay statements, unfair business practices under the Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) and penalties under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”). Plaintiffs asserted that the employers had a policy of never paying the meal break premium wages set forth in Labor Code § 226.7 “under any circumstances.” The trial court granted plaintiffs’ motion to certify the class on the ground that there was a “central and predominating common issue: “Did Safeway’s system-wide failure to pay appropriate meal break premiums make it liable to the class?” The employers filed a petition for writ of mandate with the Court of Appeal, but the Court denied the petition on the ground that a UCL claim may be predicated on a practice of not paying premium wages for missed, shortened, or delayed meal breaks attributable to the employer’s instructions or undue pressure and unaccompanied by a suitable employee waiver or agreement. The Court also determined that class certification was appropriate in the case because the employers’ challenged practice and the fact of damage were capable of common proof.