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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lamps Plus Overtime Cases: Another Court Joins the Brinker Chorus

Another Court has chimed in on the great Brinker debate. In Lamps Plus Overtime Cases (5/10/11) the Second District Court of Appeal held that the trial court (L.A. Superior, Judge West) did not abuse its discretion in denying class certification of a wage and hour action alleging, among other causes of action, violation of California's meal and rest period requirements.

The Court held that the trial court made the correct legal analysis in that employers need only "provide" meal periods, not ensure that they are taken, and that there was "overwhelming evidence that Lamps Plus's policies allowed and encouraged meal periods." Slip op. at 7. Further, it held that reaching this issue did not constitute a ruling on the merits (Slip op. at 8), substantial evidence supported the trial court's conclusions (Slip op. at 10), and the trial court did not err in denying a stay pending Brinker.

As to plaintiffs' off-the-clock claims, the Court held that resolving such claims would require an individualized inquiry, and the trial court did not err in denying class certification. Slip op. at 11.

Regarding plaintiffs' claims for waiting time penalties, the Court held: "The trial court could reasonably conclude that individualized inquiry was required, and that plaintiffs did not establish classwide violations." Slip op. at 12.

I would be surprised if the Supreme Court did not grant review and hold pending Brinker.

The opinion is available here.

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