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Angeles v. U.S. Airways, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

February 13, 2017

JOSEPH TIMBANG ANGELES, NOE LASTIMOSA, on behalf of themselves and on behalf of others similarly situated, and the general public, Plaintiffs,
US AIRWAYS, INC., and DOES 1 through 50, Defendants.



         After four-plus years of litigation, Defendant U.S. Airways moves for summary judgment using recycled arguments, while Plaintiff class members (“Plaintiffs”) complain about the use of recycled arguments. Regrettably, at least one of those recycled arguments was correct-and dispositive-all along.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Legal Backdrop

         In California, “two complementary and occasionally overlapping sources of authority” govern wage-and-hour claims: (1) provisions in the Labor Code enacted by the state legislature, and (2) a series of wage orders enacted by the Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”). Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, 53 Cal.4th 1004, 1026 (2012). Wage Orders “are to be accorded the same dignity as statutes, ” so to the extent they overlap with a provision in the Labor Code, courts must “seek to harmonize” the two. Brinker, 53 Cal.4th at 1027. Both legal regimes regulate wages, hours, and working conditions. Id. And both exempt certain classes of employees from those regulations. Collins v. Overnite Transp. Co., 105 Cal.App.4th 171, 177-80 (2003); see also, e.g., Cal. Labor Code § 511 (employees with alternative work weeks); id. § 554 (emergency, railway, and agriculture employees); Wage Order 9-90[1] § 3(H) (truckers).

         Among these exempt classes are employees who signed a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”). Wage Order 9 section 1(E)-known as “the RLA Exemption”-exempts employees who have entered into a CBA “in accordance with the provisions of the Railway Labor Act.” By definition, then, the RLA Exemption applies only to railway and airline employees. See 45 U.S.C. §§ 151, 181. Section 514 of the Labor Code exempts employees who have entered into a CBA that “expressly provides for the wages, hours of work, and working conditions of employees, and if the agreement provides premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked and a regular hourly rate of pay for those employees of not less than 30 percent more than the state minimum wage.” It applies across industries. See Cal. Labor Code § 514.

         Wage Order 9 section 3(N) also exempts airline employees who work “over 40 hours but not more than 60 hours in a workweek due to a temporary modification in the employee's normal work schedule not required by the employer but arranged at the request of another employee, ” such as when employees trade days off.

         B. Factual Background

         Plaintiffs are former employees of Defendant U.S. Airways who worked as Fleet Service Agents. Two CBAs governed their employment, which the parties agree do not differ in any meaningful respect for the purpose of summary judgment.[2] See MSJ at 2; MSJ Opp'n at 1. In their first cause of action, Plaintiffs allege that U.S. Airways did not properly pay them under Section 510 of the Labor Code for overtime hours worked (1) after trading shifts with fellow employees, and (2) while clocked-in during designated Grace Periods before and after their scheduled shifts. See TAC ¶¶ 20, 25, 31-33, 51-53. Based in part on those claims, Plaintiffs also bring claims for inaccurate wage statements (Third Cause of Action), id. ¶¶ 63-66, waiting time penalties (Fifth Cause of Action), id. ¶¶ 74-79, violations of the Unfair Competition Law (Sixth Cause of Action), id. ¶¶ 80-96, and violations of the Private Attorneys General Act (Seventh Cause of Action), id. ¶¶ 97-106.[3]

         C. Procedural History

         A comprehensive chronicle of this four-year litigation could snuff out the soul of even wage-and-hour law's most avid afficionado, so the Court focuses on the most relevant parts.

         1. First Motion to Dismiss

         As relevant here, U.S. Airways moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' overtime claims because the RLA Exemption “[e]xempts U.S. Airways from [i]ts [o]vertime [p]rovisions.” See FMTD (dkt. 6) at 5. That being so, U.S. Airways argued that “Wage Order No. 9's overtime provision does not apply.” Id. at 6. Because both operative CBAs “were entered into in accordance with the provisions of the” Railway Labor Act, as required by the RLA Exemption, the Court agreed. Order on FMTD (dkt. 23) at 8; see also 45 U.S.C. §§ 151-65. It thus granted the motion “insofar as the overtime claim” was “premised on a violation of Wage Order 9[].” Id.

         In a sprinkling of footnotes, U.S. Airways also added that California Labor Code section 514 excused U.S. Airways from complying with Section 510's overtime requirements. See FMTD at 6 n.4; FMTD Reply (dkt. 21) at 3 n.1. But because the CBAs did not meet all of Section 514's requirements, the Court disagreed. Order on FMTD at 8-9. Specifically, the CBAs failed to “provide premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked.” Order on FMTD at 8-9. So although ...

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