Estrada v. Royalty Carpet Mills, Inc., 76 Cal. App. 5th 685 (2022)

In this PAGA case, the trial court relied upon Wesson v. Staples the Office Superstore, LLC, 68 Cal. App. 5th 746 (2021) in which the Court of Appeal held that trial courts have inherent authority to strike unmanageable PAGA claims. The Court of Appeal in this case reversed the dismissal based upon unmanageability grounds, holding that “[a]llowing dismissal of unmanageable PAGA claims would effectively graft a class action requirement onto PAGA claims, undermining a core principle” established in at least two prior California Supreme Court cases. The Court further noted that

…courts are not powerless when facing unwieldy PAGA claims. Courts may still, where appropriate and within reason, limit the amount of evidence PAGA plaintiffs may introduce at trial to prove alleged violations to other unrepresented employees. If plaintiffs are unable to show widespread violations in an efficient and reasonable manner, that will just reduce the amount of penalties awarded rather than lead to dismissal.

The Court also held that certain releases in settlement agreements that the employer negotiated with individual class members prior to trial were valid; the trial court correctly applied a seven percent prejudgment interest rate to premium pay awarded under Lab. Code § 226.7 rather than a 10 percent rate; and the employer was entitled to judgment on certain derivative waiting time and wage statement claims. However, the trial court erred in failing to find that a meal period claim, which was added in an amended complaint, did not relate back to a prior complaint and in decertifying a subclass of claims. Finally, the Court held that a meal policy that required employees to remain at the facility during meal breaks violated governing law. See also Shaw v. Superior Court, 2022 WL 1400806 (Cal. Ct. App. 2022) (trial court properly applied the exclusive concurrent jurisdiction rule to later-filed PAGA action involving claims that overlapped with earlier-filed action).

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Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including…

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Tony is recognized as a leading lawyer by such highly respected publications and organizations as the Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Hollywood Reporter, and Chambers USA, which gives him the highest possible rating (“Band 1”) for Labor & Employment.  According to Chambers USA, clients say Tony is “brilliant at what he does… He is even keeled, has a high emotional IQ, is a great legal writer and orator, and never gives up.” Other clients report:  “Tony has an outstanding reputation” and he is “smart, cost effective and appropriately aggressive.” Tony is hailed as “outstanding,” particularly for his “ability to merge top-shelf lawyerly advice with pragmatic business acumen.” He is highly respected in the industry, with other commentators lauding him as a “phenomenal strategist” and “one of the top employment litigators in the country.”

“Tony is the author of the treatise titled Employment Discrimination Depositions (Juris Pub’g 2020; www.jurispub.com), co-author of Proskauer on Privacy (PLI 2020), and, since 1990, has been a regular columnist for the official publication of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Tony has been a featured guest on Fox 11 News and CBS News in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed and quoted by leading national media outlets such as The National Law JournalBloomberg News, The New York Times, and Newsweek and Time magazines. Tony is a frequent speaker on employment law topics for large and small groups of employers and their counsel, including the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), PIHRA, the National CLE Conference, National Business Institute, the Employment Round Table of Southern California (Board Member), the Council on Education in Management, the Institute for Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of California, the California Continuing Education of the Bar Program and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Bar Associations. He has testified as an expert witness regarding wage and hour issues as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and has served as a faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute. He has served as an arbitrator in an employment discrimination matter.

Tony is an appointed Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission Board of Rights and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and a guest lecturer at USC Law School and a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School.