Brown v. Ralphs Grocery Company decided, but dodges the Gentry-Concepcion issue and the NLRA prohibition on concerted activity bans

The Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division Five) issued its opinion today in Brown v. Ralphs Grocery Company (July 12, 2011).  The opinion is notable for what it doesn't address.  As mentioned previously here, the Court had requested supplemental briefing on the issue of whether Concepcion dished out the Discover Bank treatment to Gentry v. Superior Court (2007) 42 Cal.4th 443.  After a few feverish days of writing an amicus brief (for CAOC) focused primarily on the fact that the National Labor Relations Act prohibits enforcement of any contract that would impede concerted activity by employees (including class actions to improve wages and working conditions), I was disappointed to see that the Court dodged the entire question, deciding the matter on the ground that a factual showing had not been made in the trial court to support the Gentry factors.  There is also a split decision discussion of how PAGA claims interact with motions to compel arbitration.

On balance, this non-opinion doesn't do much to answer the question of how Concepcion interacts with wage & hour class actions and the Gentry decision.  It will take another appellate vehicle to properly present those questions for review.