CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.
Proceedings: (In Chambers:) DEFENDANT SLTD'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Dkt. #429, filed August 30, 2013)
On October 17, 2011, plaintiffs filed suit against Schneider Logistics, Inc. ("SLI"), Premier Warehousing Ventures, LLC ("PWV"), Rogers-Premier Unloading Services, LLC ("Rogers-Premier, " and collectively with PWV, "Premier"), and Impact Logistics, Inc. ("Impact"). On October 28, 2011, plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint, which added Schneider Logistics Transloading and Distribution, Inc. ("SLTD") as a defendant in this case. Pursuant to a November 28, 2012 stipulation between the parties, plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint, which removed a named plaintiff, updated factual allegations, and clarified class definitions. Additionally, over Walmart Stores, Inc.'s ("Walmart") objection, on January 11, 2013, plaintiffs were granted leave to file a Third Amended Complaint ("TAC") adding Walmart as a defendant. Pursuant to a July 17, 2013 stipulation between the parties, the Court dismissed SLI as a defendant.
The TAC is a class, collective, and representative action complaint. It asserts claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq., the California Labor Code, the Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200, et seq., and the common law for unpaid wages, failure to keep proper employment records, and related violations. TAC ¶¶ 134-254. Plaintiffs seek to represent two proposed classes. Id . ¶¶ 122-26. The first proposed class includes all individuals initially hired by Premier to perform work at Walmart's warehouses in Mira Loma, California, "during the applicable limitations periods." Id . ¶ 122. This class asserts the second through seventeenth claims for relief. Id . The second proposed class asserts the second through twelfth, and fifteenth through seventeenth claims for relief, and consists of individuals initially hired by Impact to work at the warehouses during the applicable limitations periods. Id . ¶ 124.
On August 30, 2013, SLTD filed a motion for partial summary judgment, challenging its liability as an alleged joint employer under the FLSA and California law. Dkt. #430. Plaintiffs filed an opposition on September 30, 2013. Dkt. #434. SLTD filed a reply on October 15, 2013. Dkt. #458. The Court held a hearing on November 4, 2013, and thereafter took this matter under submission. After considering the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.
Walmart receives, stores, and ships merchandise from warehouses located in Mira Loma, California. SLTD's Separate Statement of Uncontroverted Material Facts ("SUMF") ¶ 13; Plaintiffs' Statement of Disputed Issues in Opposition to SLTD's Motion for Summary Judgment ("SLDI") ¶ 13. Since 2006, SLTD has operated the warehouses pursuant to a contract with Walmart. SUMF ¶¶ 14-15; SLDI ¶¶ 14-15. SLTD contracted with Impact to provide merchandise loading and unloading services at the warehouses until August 2013, and contracted with Premier for the same purpose until February 2012. SUMF ¶¶ 17-18; SLDI ¶¶ 17-18.
Plaintiffs Esquivel, J. Chavez, Rangel, and Trujillo were employees of Impact who performed merchandise unloading services at warehouses located in Mira Loma. SUMF ¶¶ 1, 3-7; SLDI ¶¶ 1, 3-7. The period of employment varied for each plaintiff, but all of these plaintiffs were employed by Impact at some point between 2003 and 2013. Id . Plaintiffs Arceo, Carrillo, F. Chavez, and Flores were employees of Premier who performed merchandise loading services at the Mira Loma warehouses and other facilities. SUMF ¶¶ 2, 8-11; SLDI ¶¶ 2, 8-11. These plaintiffs were employed by Premier during various periods between 2009 and 2012. Id.
In the contracts between SLTD and Impact as well as SLTD and Premier, SLTD retained the authority to remove personnel from the Mira Loma warehouses "and from their assignment with SLTD" if SLTD became "dissatisfied with the[ir] performance or conduct." E.g., Plaintiffs' Separate Statement in Opposition to SLTD's Motion for Summary Judgment ("SLSS") ¶ 4 (citing Larson Decl. Ex. 2). SLTD supervisors exercised this authority on multiple occasions. SLSS ¶¶ 171-72 (citing Soriano Dep. 68-69; 82:7-24; 93:20-94:22); SLSS ¶ 175 (citing Viramontes Dep. 129:5-19); SLSS ¶ 176 (citing Cepeda Decl. ¶¶ 5-6). On several occasions, Premier and Impact employees were terminated from employment altogether after SLTD requested that they be removed from the Mira Loma warehouses. E.g., SLDI ¶ 85 (citing Soriano Dep. 100:23-102:3).
SLTD supervisors determined the number of cases that Premier employees were required to load each hour of each shift. SLSS ¶ 152 (citing Soriano Dep. 73:5-19). Similarly, SLTD supervisors gave work assignments directly to Impact employees on numerous occasions. SLSS ¶ 158 (citing Cepeda Dep. 68:8-69:9). In addition, SLTD does not dispute that it required Impact and Premier to conduct "specific drug tests and background checks" on all of their direct employees. SLSS ¶ 33.
SLTD does not dispute that its management expressed a preference for incentive-based payment systems during the 2009 bidding process for loading and unloading contracts. SLSS ¶¶ 259-60. In light of this preference, SLTD requested that Impact and Premier employees be paid based on "an incentive pay and compensation structure rather than an hourly wage." SLSS ¶ 261 (citing Veach Dep. 362; Pittman Dep. 381:20-24 (agreeing that "[SLTD] indicated that they wanted the actual employees to be paid on an incentive or on a production-rate basis")).
SLTD does not dispute that it maintained an individual file for each Impact or Premier worker containing forms related to an SLTD-mandated safety orientation. SLSS ¶ 60 (citing McKay Dep. 122-23). SLTD likewise does not dispute that Impact and Premier employees used SLTD's timekeeping system on certain occasions. SLSS ¶ 228 (citing Welch Dep. 89:1-92:20; 97:19-21; ...