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Friday, July 12, 2013

Ayala v. Antelope Valley Newspapers: Supreme Court Orders Supplemental Briefing on Martinez v. Combs

In Ayala v. Antelope Valley Newspapers, Inc. (9/19/12, pub. 10/17/12) 210 Cal.App.4th 77 (discussed here), the plaintiffs sought to certify a class of newspaper home delivery carriers, alleging that AVP improperly classified them as independent contractors rather than employees. The trial court held that individual issues predominated because of numerous variations in how the carriers performed their jobs. The Court of Appeal reversed in part, holding that such variations did not preclude class certification under S.G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations (1989) 48 Cal.3d 341.

On January 30, the Supreme Court granted the defendant's petition for review. Case No. S206874. And on June 26, the Court ordered the parties to submit letter briefs: 

discussing the relevance of Martinez v. Combs (2010) 49 Cal.4th 35, 52-57, 73, and IWC wage order No. 1-2001, subdivision 2(D)-(F) (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 11010, subd. 2(D)-(F)), to the issues in this case. (See also Sotelo v. Medianews Group, Inc. (2012) 207 Cal.App.4th 639, 660-662; Bradley v. Networkers Internat., LLC (2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 1129, 1146-1147.)  
Interesting.  Martinez (discussed here) held that the IWC Wage Order defines an employer as one who, directly or indirectly, or through an agent or any other person, (1) engages, (2) suffers or permits any person to work, or (3) exercises control over the wages, hours, or working conditions of any person. Martinez held further that Labor Code 1194 (minimum wage and overtime) adopts this broad, disjunctive definition of "employer."  

Sotelo (discussed here) affirmed a trial court order denying certification of a class of newspaper carriers, stating that the trial court should have analyzed employment vs. independent contractor status under Martinez, but that the failure to do so was harmless error.  

Bradley (discussed here) reversed a trial court order denying certification, holding that common evidence would be used to determine whether the class members were independent contractors or employees, whether the trial court ultimately used the standard enunciated in Borello or the one in Martinez

As always, stay tuned here for further developments.  This is going to be interesting.    

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