District Court certifies a class of Penske Logistics delivery drivers and installers

United States District Court Judge Janis Sammartino (Southern District of California) granted plaintiff's motion to certify a class of California-based logistics employees that drove delivery trucks or rode along as installation helpers.  Dilts v. Penske Logsiticcs, LLC (S.D. Cal. Apr. 26, 2010) 2010 WL 1709807.  The analysis was long but not unusual in the wage & hour setting.  The Court offered these comments about its decision to certify the meal period subclass:

The first issue to deal with is the employer's obligation with respect to meal periods under California law. The legal uncertainty about this issue has been a recent source of heartburn for courts. Although it is presently before the California Supreme Court in Brinker Restaurant v. Superior Court, until that decision has issued this Court must proceed as best it can.

As such, the Court finds that California meal break law requires an employer to affirmatively act to make a meal period available where the employee are relieved of all duty. See Cicairos v. Summit Logistics, Inc., 133 Cal.App.4th 949, 35 Cal.Rptr.3d 243, 252-53 (Cal.Ct.App.2006) (“[T]he defendant's obligation to provide the plaintiffs with an adequate meal period is not satisfied by assuming that the meal periods were taken, because employers have ‘an affirmative obligation to ensure that workers are actually relieved of all duty.’ ”); Brown v. Fed. Express Corp., 249 F.R.D. 580, 585 (C.D.Cal.2008) (“It is an employer's obligation to ensure that its employees are free from its control for thirty minutes.”). An illusory meal period, where the employer effectively prevents an employee from having an uninterrupted meal period, does not satisfy this requirement. Cicairos, 35 Cal.Rptr.3d at 252-53; Brown, 249 F.R.D. at 585. However, the employee is not required to use the provided meal period.

Slip op., at 11.

Certified class of fedex managers is subsequently decertified

United States District Court Judge Janis Sammartino (Southern District of California) granted FedEx's motion to decertify a class of California-based Dock Service Managers.  Weigele v. Fedex Ground Package System, Inc. (S.D. Cal. Apr. 5, 2010) 2010 WL 1337031.  Taking In re Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Overtime Pay Litig. (Wells Fargo II), 571 F.3d 953 (9th Cir. 2009) really seriously, the Court concluded that predominance was lacking.  Perhaps the Court took Wells Fargo II a bit too seriously: "The Court's second reason [for] its finding that common issues do not predominate is that with the substantially decreased importance of Defendant's common classification scheme, the common issues are a relatively minor portion of this litigation."  I don't think that Wells Fargo II said that a common classification scheme should be viewed with substantially decreased importance.  It said that a common classification scheme could not treated as the sole factor used in a certification analysis.  In any event, the Court's changed view was very clear:

[T]he Court is unclear how a jury will be able to sort out the issues placed before it. It appears that they will need to determine whether each testifying witness was or was not exempt and determine to what extent that witness was not provided with mandated overtime, meal, and rest breaks. They will then need to extrapolate from all of the testifying witnesses to the entire class. But it is unclear which the tools they will have to perform that extrapolation. At worst it appears that they would be left to guess. This is too amorphous to expect a reasonable and rational result from any jury.

Order, at 11.

As I said the other day, another misclassification theory, another class that doesn't make the cut.