United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION RE: DKT.
CHHABRIA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Vaughn's motion for class certification is denied because
she has not shown that common issues predominate over
individual issues, as she must under Rule 23(b)(3). See
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 350
suit, Vaughn alleges that store managers at Coach stores in
California were improperly denied a number of state
wage-and-hour protections, including overtime compensation
and meal and rest breaks. Coach argues it was not required to
provide these protections, because its store managers are
exempt executive employees under California law. Both sides
agree that Vaughn and other store managers did some
managerial work. But Vaughn argues that managerial work never
constituted more than half of her and other store
managers' work, as it must to be considered an executive
employee under California law.
issue for each purported class member's claim is whether
that class member spent more than half of her time engaged in
managerial work. See Cal. Labor Code § 515(e);
Cal. Code Regs. tit. 8, § 11070 subsec. 1(A)(1)(e). This
question, in turn, involves three main inquiries: (1) what
tasks did the store manager perform; (2) were these tasks
managerial; and (3) how much time did the manager spend on
managerial and non-managerial tasks. Cf. Vinole v.
Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 571 F.3d 935, 945 (9th
has not established that these questions can be adjudicated
on a class-wide basis. And the record suggests that at least
the third inquiry could require individualized proof. Though
the proposed class members share the same title, how store
managers spend their time varies substantially. In part, this
variation flows from Coach's decision to give store
managers discretion in how to spend their time. In part,
store managers' actual work varies because they do not
work in a standardized setting. Coach has store manager-led
stores in California that generate less than $500, 000 in
annual revenue, and it has store manager-led stores in the
state that generate around $20 million in annual
revenue. See Dkt. No. 63-16, Gill Decl.
¶ 3. In a small store, a store manager may supervise a
total staff of around 7; in a larger store, a store manager
could work with around 10 associate and assistant managers,
and in total supervise over 30 employees. See Dkt.
No. 63-10, Aguilera Decl. ¶ 3; Dkt. No. 63-12, Dera
Decl. ¶ 2; see also Dkt. No. 63-18, Monroy
Decl. ¶¶ 2-3; Dkt. No. 63-20, Velez Decl.
¶¶ 3, 7-14.
Vaughn has failed to establish predominance, the Court
declines to address the remaining requirements for class
certification at this time. See Kowalsky v.
Hewlett-Packard Co., No. 10-CV-02176-LHK, 2012 WL
892427, at *8 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 14, 2012).
Denial of the motion is without prejudice. Under these
circumstances, it is reasonable to give Vaughn another chance
to move for class certification because there is a reasonable
possibility that Vaughn could establish predominance in a
subsequent motion. Cf. id.
Vaughn has not made the required showing in this motion, it
appears possible that both the inquiry into what tasks store
managers in fact perform and the inquiry into whether these
tasks are managerial as a matter of law could be litigated on
a class-wide basis. For example, it seems that the question
of whether a store manager is engaged in managerial work
while participating in sales to customers can be adjudicated
as to all class members "in one stroke."
Dukes, 564 U.S. at 350; see 29 C.F.R.
541.108 (2000); Cal. Code Regs. tit. 8, § 11070 subsec.
1(A)(1)(e). This alone may be enough to satisfy predominance,
given that a key dispute for all of the claims appears to be
whether the time store managers spent on the selling floor
should be considered exempt time. Cf. Torres v. Mercer
Canyons Inc., 835 F.3d 1125, 1134 (9th Cir. 2016). And
it is possible that the timekeeping records Coach has
maintained for store managers at stores outside of California
could be used as common proof for establishing how store
managers at stores inside California spent their time.
Because Coach did not keep similar records for store managers
in California (for the purpose, according to Vaughn, of
evading California's more stringent protections against
improper classification of employees), the out-of-state
records may be the best evidence on this issue. For example,
this evidence may show that despite the discretion store
managers are given, store managers - or store managers from a
particular subset of stores - spent at least 50 percent of
their time on a set of managerial (or non-managerial) tasks.
Yet these timekeeping records have not been provided by Coach
(and apparently not meaningfully sought by Vaughn) in
 Some Coach stores - apparently stores
with higher revenues - also have a general manager.
See Dkt. No. 63-9, Stankard Decl. ¶¶ 2-3;
see also Aguilera Decl. ¶ 2. The proposed class
excludes store managers who worked ...