Wilson v. The La Jolla Group, 61 Cal. App. 5th 897 (2021)

The trial court declined to certify a class action filed by individuals who worked as signature gatherers for the La Jolla Group (“LJG”) on behalf of political campaigns and political action committees.  LJG classified these workers as independent contractors, though they alleged they were misclassified and should have been classified and paid as employees of LJG; they also alleged a violation of Cal. Lab. Code § 226(a) involving their wage statements.  The trial court determined that plaintiffs had failed to show that common questions of fact or law predominate or that class treatment was superior to individual actions even if the workers were employees under Dynamex Ops. W., Inc. v. Superior Court, 4 Cal. 5th 903 (2018).

LJG provided evidence that the signature gatherers had no set workdays or hours; chose when and how long to work; worked in many different local jurisdictions with many differing minimum wage rates; were free to stop work for a meal or rest break any time (or not); were free to purchase supplies for their own use (or not); and there was no termination or resignation event that would trigger a final wage payment.  Accordingly, the Court of Appeal affirmed denial of class certification on the misclassification issue, but reversed that determination as to the wage statement claim, holding that LJG has a uniform policy of not providing signature gatherers with itemized wage statements, which should have been certified as a class action.  See also Salazar v. See’s Candy Shops, Inc., 64 Cal. App. 5th 85 (2021) (because individual issues predominate, motion to certify class action for missed meal breaks was properly denied); Parada v. East Coast Transp. Inc., 62 Cal. App. 5th 692 (2021) (Dynamex applies retroactively and the “ABC Test” is not preempted by federal law); Vendor Surveillance Corp. v. Henning, 62 Cal. App. 5th 59 (2021) (S.G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Indus. Relations, 48 Cal. 3d 341 (1989) rather than Dynamex provides an applicable standard for determining employment status for purposes of determining unemployment insurance taxes for work performed before Jan. 1, 2020).