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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

9th Cir. Affirms Class Denial In Starbucks Assistant Manager Off the Clock Action

In an unpublished opinion, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal has affirmed a district court's denial of class certification to a group of former Starbucks assistant managers, who allege that Starbucks required them to work off the clock without pay. Koike v. Starbucks Corp. (9th Cir., May 5, 2010) 2010 WL 1784727.

Although the opinion shares few details on the underlying action, before Judge Vaughn R. Walker in the Northern District of California, the Court makes the following points:

Although the plaintiffs presented evidence that showed "business pressures exist which might lead assistant managers to work off-the-clock... [t]he district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that individualized factual determinations are required to determine whether class members did in fact engage in off-the-clock work and whether Starbucks had actual or constructive knowledge of off-the-clock work performed." Slip op. at 1.

Although Starbucks' statistical expert testimony was "consistent with Koike's assertion that class members regularly needed to work more than forty hours per week to complete assigned tasks," the district court properly "assumed as true that assistant managers' job tasks require work in excess of forty hours per week, yet nonetheless properly determined that individual issues predominate" in that certain stores "had excess non-overtime capacity, thus allowing those assistant managers with more than forty hours of work per week to delegate work to others. This conclusion speaks to variations in Starbucks' liability as opposed to merely at the damages stage." Slip op. at 1.

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