Tag Archives: Superior Court of Los Angeles County

Second District Reverses Summary Judgment on All Wage and Hour Claims

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The Court of Appeal for the Second District reversed summary judgment on wage and hour claims in Porter v. Ralphs Grocery Company, No. B218220, 2010 WL 3704055 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Sept. 23, 2010).  Plaintiff alleged that defendant required him to work overtime off the clock, and by doing this defendant both denied plaintiff proper wages and made it difficult for plaintiff to calculate the overtime pay due him.  Id. *8.  Plaintiff also alleged that defendant failed to afford meal periods of at least one-half hour in which he was relieved of all duties, and that he regularly worked without taking the 10 minute rest breaks due him.  Id. Plaintiff alleged violation of Labor Code sections 1174, 226.7, and 512. Id. He also alleged violation of Labor Code sections 201 and 203 for failure to pay all sums due plaintiff immediately upon termination of his employment.  Id. Additionally, he alleged defendant retaliated against him for his having requested that he not have to work off the books. Id.

The Court of Appeal held that “when an employee continues to work at the end of his shift even when not requested or required to do so, and the employer knows or has reason to know about such continuing work, then the time is considered working time and it is the duty of management to see that the post-shift work is not performed if it does not want the employee to work past his shift.” Id. *9 (citing Morillion v. Royal Packing Co., 22 Cal. 4th 575 (2000)). Continue reading

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Second District Holds That, Pending Brinker, Employer Has a Duty to Provide Meal Breaks “as a Practical Matter”

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While the California Supreme Court will resolve this issue shortly, in Brookler v. Radioshack Corp., B212893, 2010 WL 3341816 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Aug. 26, 2010), an unpublished opinion issued today, the Second District Court of Appeal held that “Unless and until our Supreme Court holds otherwise, we agree with the analysis in Cicairos which held an employer’s obligation under the Labor Code and related wage orders is to do more than simply permit meal breaks in theory; it must also provide them as a practical matter.”

Morry Brookler filed a class action complaint against Radioshack for its alleged failure to provide employees with a meal period of not less than 30 minutes during a work period of more than five hours.  Id. *1.  The trial court certified the class. Radioshack filed a second motion for decertification after issuance of the opinion in Brinker, 165 Cal. App. 4th 25 which the trial court granted. The California Supreme Court granted review in Brinker and the matter is currently pending. Continue reading

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New Trial Granted for Arguing to Jury That Future Wages Are Recoverable Even After Resignation

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In an unreported opinion, Wolfson v. Tukatech, Inc., 2010 WL 3170521 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Aug. 12, 2010), the Second District Court of Appeal considered whether a new trial was correctly ordered after plaintiff’s attorney argued to the jury about plaintiff’s right to recover for his future wages.  The Court of Appeal affirmed the new trial order because the “record supports the trial court’s finding that Wolfson’s trial counsel committed prejudicial misconduct when arguing to the jury about Wolfson’s right to recover for his future wages”.

The court held that the plaintiff’s attorney misstated the law by “repeatedly argu[ing] unauthorized instructions whose flaws should have been obvious, even after repeated objections to those instructions were sustained”; thus, the court held “that the trial court did not abuse its broad discretion by finding that misconduct occurred.” Continue reading

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Second District Court of Appeal Holds That “in the vast majority of wage and hour disputes, class suitability should not be determined on demurrer.”

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This next case highlights the difficulty of successfully eliminating a wage and hour class action in California at the demurrer stage.  After 3 bites at the apple, the trial judge in Gutierrez v. California Commerce Club, Inc., 2010 WL 2991875 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. August 02, 2010) (not reported) sustained without leave to amend the defendant California Commerce Club, Inc.’s (“Club”)  demurrer to plaintiff’s third amended complaint on the ground the plaintiffs had failed to show the existence of a class, and dismissed the action as to all representative claims.  In a 3-0 opinion, Justice Jeffrey J. Johnson, writing for the Second District Court of Appeal, reversed the trial court’s order.

Putative class representatives Sergio Gutierrez and Hector Salazar filed the operative third amended class action complaint against the Club, alleging, among other things, that they and other similarly situated members of the putative class were injured by the Club’s unlawful policy and practice of denying meal and rest breaks to certain hourly, non-union employees.

The Court of Appeal held that “In this action, as in the vast majority of wage and hour disputes, class suitability should not be determined on demurrer.”

Plaintiffs alleged that, pursuant to a Club policy or practice, they and similarly situated hourly, non-union employees have been denied meal and rest breaks to which they are legally entitled, or compensation therefor.  The Court reasoned that “[o]n these allegations, it is clear that the Club liability, if any, to the class as a whole, can be determined by reviewing a single or set of facts common to all.” Id. *6.  The Court wrote:

We return again to and rely upon the well-established principle, that “only in mass tort actions (or other actions equally unsuited to class action treatment) [should] class suitability … be determined at the pleading stage. In other cases, particularly those involving wage and hour claims, [such as the instant action,] class suitability should not be determined by demurrer.” ( Prince, supra, 118 Cal.App.4th at p. 1325, italics added; see also Tarkington, supra, 172 Cal.App.4th at p. 1512.).  Id.

We will reverse the order dismissing the action following the sustaining without leave to amend of the demurrer to the TAC based on the trial court’s finding that the pleading failed “to allege facts sufficient to show the existence of a class.” It was premature for the trial court to make determinations pertaining to class suitability on demurrer. The allegations of the operative complaint are sufficient to move the action beyond the pleading stage.

Id. *6.

The appeal was taken from an order of Judge Aurelio Munoz of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. (Judge Munoz is a retired judge of the L.A. Sup. Ct. assigned by the Chief Justice pursuant to art. VI, § 6 of the Cal. Const.).  Matthew J. Matern and Thomas S. Campbell appeared for Plaintiffs and Appellants.  Anna Segobia Master and Jennifer Rappoport appeared for Defendant and Respondent.

By CHARLES H. JUNG

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