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Betancourt v. Prudential Overall Supply

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Second Division

March 7, 2017

ROBERTO BETANCOURT, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
PRUDENTIAL OVERALL SUPPLY, Defendant and Appellant.

         APPEAL from the Superior Court of Riverside County No. RIC1503952. Daniel A. Ottolia, Judge. Affirmed.

          Hill, Farrer & Burrill, Kyle D. Brown, James A. Bowles and Edward S. McLoughlin for Defendant and Appellant.

          Lawyers for Justice, Edwin Aiwazian, Arby Aiwazian and Joanna Ghosh for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          OPINION

          MILLER J.

         Plaintiff and respondent Roberto Betancourt (Betancourt) sued defendant and appellant Prudential Overall Supply (Prudential). Betancourt's complaint sets forth one cause of action: enforcement of the Labor Code under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). (Labor Code, § 2698.)[1] Prudential filed a motion to compel arbitration.[2] The trial court denied Prudential's motion. Prudential contends the trial court erred. We affirm the judgment.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. COMPLAINT

         Betancourt alleged the following in his April 2015 complaint: Betancourt was employed by Prudential. Betancourt and other Prudential employees worked over eight hours per day or more than 40 hours per week. Prudential failed to compensate Betancourt and other employees for all the hours they worked, as well as for missed breaks and meal periods. Prudential's failure to pay Betancourt and other Prudential employees for all the time worked was due to Prudential's “uniform policy and systematic scheme of wage abuse.”

         Within the sole cause of action, for “Violation of California Labor Code [section] 2698, et seq., ” a section which concerns PAGA claims, Betancourt alleges a series of violations: (1) failure to pay overtime; (2) failure to provide meal periods; (3) failure to provide rest periods; (4) failure to pay minimum wage; (5) failure to pay timely wages upon termination; (6) failure to pay timely wages during employment; (7) failure to complete accurate wage statements; (8) failure to keep complete and accurate payroll records; and (9) failure to reimburse necessary business-related expenses and costs.

         In the “Prayer for Relief” section of the complaint, Betancourt requests “civil penalties pursuant to California Labor Code sections 2699(a), (f) and (g) plus costs/expenses and attorneys' fees for violation of California Labor Code sections 201 [wages due upon discharge or layoff], 202 [wages due upon resignation], 203 [wages not promptly paid], 204 [semimonthly wages], 226(a), 226.7, 510, 512(a), 1174(d), 1194, 1197, 1197.1, 1198, 2800 and 2802, ” as well as “such other and further relief as the Court may deem equitable and appropriate.”

         B. MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

         Prudential filed a motion to compel arbitration. Prudential asserted Betancourt, on January 30, 2006, signed an Agreement to Arbitrate (the Agreement), which provided, “‘I understand that it is my obligation to make use of the Company's Fair Treatment Process (‘FTP') and to submit to final and binding arbitration any and all claims and disputes that are related in any way to my employment or the termination of my employment with Prudential Overall Supply.” The Agreement further provides that Betancourt agreed “‘to forego any right to bring claims on a representative or class member basis.'”

         Prudential argued that all of Betancourt's claims related to employment and therefore were subject to arbitration pursuant to the Agreement. Prudential also asserted that Betancourt's PAGA claim was not exempt from arbitration because it was not really a PAGA action. Prudential asserted Betancourt's action, in substance, was a standard wage and hour case, and therefore was subject to arbitration. Prudential further noted that Betancourt was seeking remedies that did not fall within a PAGA cause of action, such as business expenses, unpaid wages, interest, ...


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