California Court of Appeals, First District, First Division
Alameda County Superior Court No. JCCP004637 Hon. Wynne S. Carvill Judge
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Hoffman Libenson Saunders & Barba: Chad A. Saunders, H. Tim Hoffman The Cooper Law Firm: Scott B. Cooper Altshuler Berzon and Michael Rubin for Plaintiffs and Appellants.
Morgan Lewis & Bockius, George Stohner, Thomas M. Peterson, Rebecca D. Eisen, Stephen L. Taeusch; and Jennifer S. Abramowitz for Defendant and Respondent.
Plaintiffs Frank Koval, Mike Williams, Vanmark Strickland, and Donald Washington filed this consolidated class action lawsuit against their employer, defendant Pacific Bell Telephone Company (doing business as AT&T California) (Pacific Bell). They alleged Pacific Bell violated California law by failing to relinquish control over their activities during meal and rest break periods, and they moved for class certification. Relying, in part, on Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1004 [139 Cal.Rptr.3d 315, 273 P.3d 513] (Brinker), the trial court concluded plaintiffs failed to show Pacific Bell’s allegedly restrictive policies had been consistently applied to the putative class members. The court denied class certification on the ground that common questions do not predominate over individual questions, making the class action procedure an inappropriate method for resolving this dispute. We affirm.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Pacific Bell is a telecommunications company providing wireline local telephone service, as well as digital television and Internet service, to residential, business, and governmental customers throughout much of the state of California. Named plaintiffs Koval, Williams, Strickland, and Washington are or were hourly nonexempt field technicians employed at one or more of Pacific Bell’s regional operations.
State law obligates employers to afford their nonexempt employees meal periods and rest periods during the workday. (See Lab. Code, §§ 226.7, 512; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 11040 (Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC), wage order no. 4-2001)(Wage Order No. 4).) Labor Code section 226.7, subdivision (b) prohibits an employer fro requiring an employee “to work
during a meal or rest period... mandated pursuant to an applicable... order of the Industrial Welfare Commission....” In turn, Wage Order No. 4, subdivision 12 prescribes rest periods, while subdivision 11, as well as section 512 of the Labor Code, prescribes meal periods. Employers who violate these requirements must pay premium wages. (§ 226.7, subd. (c); Wage Order No. 4, subds. 11(B), 12(B); see Murphy, supra, 40 Cal.4th at pp. 1113-1114.)
II. Commencement of Action
On February 16, 2010, plaintiff Washington filed a putative class action against Pacific Bell in the Superior Court, County of Los Angeles, seeking to represent “all service technicians” employed by Pacific Bell. Among his claims, the complaint alleged failure to provide meal and rest break periods or to pay compensation in lieu thereof.
On April 20, 2010, plaintiffs Koval, Strickland, and Williams, along with Kenesha Mayfield and Frank Manibusan, filed a similar putative class action in the Superior Court, County of Alameda.
On September 28, 2010, the Los Angeles and Alameda County actions were ordered consolidated.
On January 25, 2011, the trial court issued an order allowing plaintiffs to file a consolidated ...