Search This Blog

Monday, January 7, 2013

Bradley v. Networkers Int'l: On Remand After Brinker, Court of Appeal Reverses Order Denying Certification of Overtime, Meal Period, Rest Period, and Related Claims

I noted this case briefly a couple of weeks ago and promised more detail, so here it is:  

In Bradley v. Networkers International LLC (12/12/12) --- Cal.App.4th ---, the plaintiffs filed a putative class action for unpaid overtime, meal period, rest period, and related violations, alleging that the defendant improperly classified them as independent contractors and failed to pay overtime compensation, provide meal periods, or authorize and permit rest periods. The trial court denied their motion for class certification, and the Court of Appeal affirmed in an unpublished decision.

On remand after Brinker, the Court of Appeal reversed its prior position, holding that the trial court erred in refusing to certify the class with respect to each of plaintiffs' claims, except for the off-the-clock claims, which the Court remanded for reconsideration.

The Court first determined that common evidence would be used to determine whether the class members were independent contractors or employees, whether the trial court ultimately used the standards enunciated in S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations (1989) 48 Cal.3d 341 or Martinez v. Combs (2010) 49 Cal.4th 35. The Court relied heavily on the fact that the defendant had “consistent companywide policies applicable to all employees regarding work scheduling, payments, and work requirements.” Without deciding the ultimate issue of employment status, the Court held that the evidence relied on by the parties “would be largely uniform throughout the class.”

Second, with regard to the plaintiffs’ meal and rest period claims, the Court noted that the defendant did not have meal or rest period policies in place during the class period and did not know whether the class members took meal or rest periods. “Under Brinker, plaintiffs' legal challenge to these uniform practices involve common factual and legal issues that are amenable to class treatment.” Accordingly, those claims should have been certified. 

Third, the Court held that overtime claims based on records showing unpaid overtime hours should have been certified. Questions regarding the amount of time worked by each class member would not predominate because the defendant’s time records showed unpaid overtime and it would be a simple matter to calculate the amount owed. 

Fourth, the Court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to certify off-the-clock claims because there was evidence to show that “the off-the-clock claims arose from individual actions of particular supervisors and the extent of the off-the-clock work varied substantially for each worker and for each job.” Regardless, the Court remanded these claims for reconsideration. 

Finally, the Court held that claims for (1) failure to furnish accurate wage statements; (2) failure to keep accurate payroll records; (3) waiting time penalties; and (4) unfair business practices should have been certified to the extent that they were based on the plaintiffs' overtime, meal period, and rest period claims.  

The opinion is available here

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.