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Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

Ninth Circuit Avoids Broad Ruling in Kilgore v. KeyBank

In Arbitration, Class Waiver, Concepcion, Public Claims, Unfair Competition Law on April 11, 2013 at 5:49 pm
Wright brothers flying over the Kohn plantatio...

Wright brothers flying over the Kohn plantation in Montgomery, Alabama, where they set up a flying school. Maxwell Air Force Base was later built on the site. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Ninth Circuit took a narrow approach in a ruling which had been expected to  have implications for wage & hour class actions.  The en banc court today compelled arbitration in Kilgore v. Keybank, National Association, but declined to issue a broad holding vitiating the Broughton-Cruz rule.  Kilgore v. Keybank, National Association, No. 09-16703, __ F.3d __ (9th Cir. Apr. 11, 2013) (en banc).  The appeal involved a putative class action by former students of a failed flight-training school who seek broad injunctive relief against the bank that originated their student loans among others.  The en banc court held that the arbitration agreement was not unconscionable under California law and reversed and remanded with instructions to compel arbitration.

The court concluded that the injunctive relief claim at issue fell outside Broughton-Cruz’s “narrow exception to the rule that the FAA requires state courts to honor arbitration agreements.”

The central premise of Broughton-Cruz is that “the judicial forum has significant institutional advantages over arbitration in administering a public injunctive remedy, which as a consequence will likely lead to the diminution or frustration of the public benefit if the remedy is entrusted to arbitrators.” Broughton, 988 P.2d at 78. That concern is absent here, where Defendants’ alleged statutory violations have, by Plaintiffs’ own admission, already ceased, where the class affected by the alleged practices is small, and where there is no real prospective benefit to the public at large from the relief sought.

You can read more about today’s ruling here.

Attorneys Read the rest of this entry »

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Second District Holds Denial of Class Certification Cannot Establish Collateral Estoppel Against Unnamed Putative Class Members

In Class Actions, Collateral Estoppel on February 15, 2012 at 7:46 pm
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The Court of Appeal for the Second District held that a denial of class certification cannot establish collateral estoppel against unnamed putative class members. Bridgeford v. Pacific Health Corporation, et al., No. B227486, 202 Cal.App.4th 1034 (2d Dist. Jan. 18, 2012).

Background

Plaintiffs Bridgeford and Tarin filed a class action complaint in May 2010 against Pacific Health Corporation and other entities, alleging that defendants committed numerous wage and hour violations, including (1) failure to pay wages due upon discharge or resignation, (2) failure to pay regular and overtime wages due semimonthly, (3) failure to provide meal breaks, (4) failure to provide rest breaks, (5) failure to provide itemized wage statements, (6) failure to pay minimum wages for time worked off-the-clock, (7) failure to pay overtime wages, and (8) unfair competition.  Id.

The trial court sustained a demurrer without leave to amend.  Id.  Plaintiff’s appealed, contending the trial court misapplied the doctrine of collateral estoppel in holding that their class claims are precluded, and there is no basis to dismiss their individual claims or their representative claims under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) (Lab. Code section 2698, et seq.).

Discussion

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Jury Denies Disability Discrimination Claims, But Awards $212 for Violation of Labor Code sections 201 and 203

In Jury, Waiting Time Penalties on February 8, 2011 at 8:17 am
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In a wage and hour, failure to accommodate, and disability discrimination case, a welder alleged that his employer terminated him because of his intestinal ailment.  Cubias v. Murray’s Iron Works Inc., 7 Trials Digest 14th 14, 2010 WL 5690615, Case No. BC406749 (Cal. Superior, Verdict: July 29, 2010).

Plaintiff alleged that he was employed as an aluminum welder until defendant Murray’s Iron Works terminated his employment.  Plaintiff alleged he was harassed and terminated, when he disclosed his medical condition/disability called diverticulosis or diverticular disease., which occurred when pressure in plaintiff’s colon formed bulging pouches that can cause severe stomach cramps, aches, constipation, and/or diarrhea. Id.

Plaintiff alleged disability discrimination, failure to provide reasonable accommodation, failure to engage in the interactive process, unlawful retaliation, unlawful retaliation in violation of public policy, harassment, wrongful termination in violation of public policy, failure to prevent discrimination and harassment, failure to prevent retaliation, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and failure to pay overtime wages against defendant Murray’s Iron Works.  Id. Against defendant Irene Leisner, the Human Resources Manager and co-owner of Murray’s Iron Works, plaintiff alleged harassment, invasion of right to privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress for allegedly entering the men’s restroom at work and yelling at him to get back to work and to hurry up while he was using the restroom. Id. Read the rest of this entry »

Ninth Circuit Holds That Newspaper Reporters Not Exempt

In 23(b)(2) Class, Class Actions, Class Notice, Collective Action, Exemptions, FLSA, Jury, Meal and Rest Breaks, Opt-in, Opt-out, Overtime, Preemption, Professional, Trial, Unfair Competition Law on September 30, 2010 at 12:14 am
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On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed in “all respects” the trial court’s grant of partial summary judgment to plaintiffs, a judgment after jury and bench trials, and an award of attorney’s fees to plaintiffs.  Wang v. Chinese Daily News, Inc., Nos. 08-55483, 08-56740, — F.3d —-, 2010 WL 3733568 (9th Cir. Sept. 27, 2010).  Among other things, the Ninth Circuit held that plaintiff newspaper reporters were non-exempt.  (Thank you to Randy Renick for bringing this case to my attention.)

Background

Employees of Chinese Daily News, Inc. (“CDN”), a Chinese-language newspaper, filed suit against CDN on behalf of current, former, and future CDN employees based in CDN’s San Francisco and Monterey Park (Los Angeles), California locations.  Id. *1.  Plaintiffs claimed violations of the FLSA, California’s Labor Code, and California’s Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200, alleging that employees were made to work in excess of eight hours per day and forty hours per week. Id. Read the rest of this entry »

Second District Holds That Hotel Service Charge Reform Ordinance Is Not Preempted by Labor Code’s Tip Provisions

In Preemption, Tips on September 9, 2010 at 7:09 am
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Yesterday, the Second District issued an opinion addressing the validity of the Hotel Service Charge Reform Ordinance (Ordinance) enacted by the City of Los Angeles, which requires non-unionized hotels in the Century Corridor near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to pass along mandatory service charges to workers who render the services for which the charges have been collected.  Garcia v. Four Points Sheraton LAX, et al., Nos. B210720, B210716, B210719, B210726, B210730, — Cal. Rptr. 3d —-, 2010 WL 3491954 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Sept. 8, 2010). Read the rest of this entry »

South Los Angeles Garment Factory Settles Overtime Case With City Attorney’s Office

In Breaking News on September 3, 2010 at 5:00 am
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Richard Winton of the Los Angeles Times reports that a South Los Angeles garment factory has agreed to pay backpay and overtime to settle a suit filed by the City Attorney’s office in 2009.

The settlement will bring long overdue compensation for unpaid overtime to employees and will require an independent monitor at the factory to oversee compliance with workplace laws, city attorneys said.

The owners agreed to pay for an independent monitor, the first time a domestic garment manufacturer has consented to do so, said Asst. City Atty Jim Colbert.

The lawsuit filed in July 2009 alleged that Seventeen Inc. and its predecessor, Q&I Inc., along with their owners and operators, required employees to work 12-hour shifts, sometimes two or three shifts back-to-back, six days a week without overtime pay or rest breaks. Read the rest of this entry »

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

In Meal and Rest Breaks on August 26, 2010 at 8:41 pm
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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. Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking News: California Supreme Court Rejects Private Right of Action for Plaintiffs in Tip Pooling Cases Under Labor Code section 351

In Breaking News, Private Rights of Action, Tip Pooling on August 9, 2010 at 2:30 pm
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The California Supreme Court today issued its opinion in Lu v. Hawaiian Gardens Casino, Inc., an eagerly anticpiated decision where the issue was whether Labor Code section 351 provides a private cause of action for employees to recover any misappropriated tips from employers.  The Court concluded that “section 351 does not contain a private right to sue.”

Labor Code section 351 prohibits employers from taking any gratuity patrons leave for their employees, and declares that such gratuity is “the sole property of the employee or employees to whom it was paid, given, or left for.” Several appellate opinions have held that this prohibition, at least in the restaurant context, does not extend to employer-mandated tip pooling, whereby employees must pool and share their tips with other employees. (See Leighton v. Old Heidelberg, Ltd. (1990) 219 Cal. App. 3d 1062, 1067 (Leighton); see also Etheridge v. Reins Internat. California, Inc. (2009) 172 Cal. App. 4th 908, 921-922; Budrow v. Dave & Buster’s of California, Inc. (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 875, 878-884; Jameson v. Five Feet Restaurant, Inc. (2003) 107 Cal.App.4th 138, 143.)

Plaintiff Louie Hung Kwei Lu (plaintiff) was employed as a card dealer at defendant Hawaiian Gardens Casino, Inc. (the Casino), from 1997 to 2003. The Casino had a written tip pooling policy.  Plaintiff brought a class action against the Casino and its general manager. His complaint alleged that the Casino‟s tip pooling policy amounted to a conversion of his tips, and violated the employee protections under sections 221 (prohibiting wage kickbacks by employer), 351 (prohibiting employer from taking, collecting, or receiving employees‟ gratuities), 450 (prohibiting employer from compelling employees to patronize employer), 1197 (prohibiting payment of less than minimum wage), and 2802 (indemnifying employee for necessary expenditures). The complaint also alleged that the Casino‟s conduct giving rise to each statutory violation constituted an unfair business practice under the unfair competition law (UCL) (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200 et seq.).

The trial court granted the Casino‟s motion for judgment on the pleadings on the causes of action based on sections 351 and 450. It agreed with the Casino that neither section contained a private right to sue. The court also granted the Casino‟s successive motions for summary adjudication on the remaining causes of action. Plaintiff appealed.

The Court of Appeal held, “pursuant to the analysis in Leighton, that tip pooling in the casino industry is not prohibited by Labor Code section 351.” However, it reversed the trial court‟s order granting summary adjudication of the UCL cause of action based on section 351. While section 351 itself contains no private right to sue, the Court of Appeal concluded this provision may nonetheless serve as a predicate for a UCL claim because plaintiff presented triable issues of fact as to whether section 351 prohibited certain employees who participated in the tip pool from doing so because they were “agents” of the Casino.

Less than two months later, another Court of Appeal expressly disagreed with the holding on section 351 of the appellate court below. (See Grodensky v. Artichoke Joe’s Casino (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 1399, review granted June 24, 2009, S172237.) The Supreme Court granted review to resolve the conflict on this narrow issue.

The Court concluded that the statutory language does not “unmistakabl[y]” reveal a legislative intent to provide wronged employees a private right to sue.  Based on a review of section 351‟s legislative history, the Court also concluded that there is no clear indication that the legislative history showed an intent to create a private cause of action under the statute.

Justice Chin wrote the opinion for the California Supreme Court, with all other Jusitices concurring.  Judge David L. Minning of the Los Angeles Superior Court was the trial judge.

The attorneys for appellant were Spiro Moss, Dennis F. Moss, and Andrew Kopel.

David Arbogast submitted an amicus curiae brief for the Consumer Attorneys of California.

Respondents were represented by Tracey A. Kennedy and Michael St. Denis

Anna Segobia Masters and Jennifer Rappoport submitted an amicus curiae brief for the California Gaming Association on behalf of Defendants and Respondents.

Dennis F. Moss and Tracey A. Kennedy argued in front of the Court.

By CHARLES H. JUNG

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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.”

In Cal. State Court, Class Actions, Demurrer on August 5, 2010 at 10:11 am
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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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