“Sometimes surrender is the best option.” That is how Judge Raymond J. Dearie of the Eastern District of New York begins his opinion in Anjum v. J.C. Penney Co., Inc., before denying J.C. Penney’s motion to dismiss a putative Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) collective action based on the company’s offer to pay the claims of four named plaintiffs with offers of judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68—a strategy often referred to as “picking off.” Even though the court rejected J.C. Penney’s picking off attempt in this case, the judge’s opinion in Anjum recognizes the validity of this tactic and provides some practical lessons for defense counsel looking to successfully pick off an FLSA collective in the Second Circuit.
Jessica R. Perry
Jessica R. Perry is an employment law and litigation partner in the Silicon Valley office and serves as Deputy Leader of the firm's Litigation Business Unit. Jessica also serves as the Recruiting Partner for the Silicon Valley office.
Orrick’s Employment Law and Litigation group was recently named Labor & Employment Department of the Year in California by The Recorder, the premier source for legal news, in recognition of their significant wins on behalf of leading multinational companies on today’s most complex and challenging employment law matters.
Jessica has defended numerous class actions, collective actions, representative actions and multi-plaintiff actions under state and federal laws, including claims for overtime, minimum wage, vacation and personal days, meal and rest break penalties, reporting time wages, expense reimbursements, waiting-time penalties, Private Attorney General Act penalties, work uniform violations, discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Jessica has also successfully represented clients involved in investigations and audits by the Department of Labor and the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, and she assists clients in developing compensation policies and compliance measures designed to reduce potential exposure.
The following are some of Jessica’s wage-and-hour representations:
- Fortune 100 Technology Company. Defeated class certification in a wage-and-hour class action alleging off-the-clock work by customer support agents; defeated class certification and won motion to deny certification in a wage-and-hour class action alleging rest break violations in client's retail stores.
- Electronic Arts. Defended California class actions and Florida collective action challenging the exempt status of computer graphic artists and engineers.
- Roche Laboratories. Obtained summary judgment and defeated class certification in a wage-and-hour class action challenging the exempt status of pharmaceutical representatives.
- Morgan Stanley. Obtained summary judgment and defeated class certification in wage-and-hour class action alleging compelled patronage in violation of California law and various Labor Code claims; won motion to dismiss in wage-and-hour class action alleging compelled patronage in violation of California law; defeated class certification in wage-and-hour class action challenging the exempt status of financial advisors, business expenses reimbursement practices, and sign on payment practices and certain non-solicit provisions.
- Gap. Defeated class certification in a wage-and-hour class action alleging compelled patronage and wage deductions under New York law.
- Old Navy. Defeated class certification in a wage-and-hour class action challenging the exempt status of managers.
- Banana Republic. Defeated class certification in a wage-and-hour class action challenging the exempt status of managers.
- Pottery Barn Kids. Defeated class certification in a wage-and-hour class action challenging the exempt status of managers, meal and rest break violations, and waiting time penalties.
- Gymboree. Defeated collective certification in FLSA case in Florida challenging the exempt status of managers; obtained summary judgment on the exempt status of a retail manager.
Jessica also regularly represents employers on discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims. Some of Jessica’s recent engagements involving these claims include the following:
- Fortune 100 Technology Company. Obtained summary judgment on gender and medical condition discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims brought by senior female sales manager.
- Fortune 100 Technology Company. Obtained summary judgment and sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 on discrimination, harassment, Equal Pay Act and other tort claims.
- Advanced Micro Devices. Won a defense verdict in the high profile race and religious discrimination case Maghribi v. AMD.
Following up on our recent post regarding pregnancy discrimination developments, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued the Enforcement Guidance: Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues on July 14, 2014. This is the first comprehensive update of the EEOC’s guidance on discrimination against pregnant workers in thirty years, since its 1983 Compliance Manual chapter. One major development in the new Enforcement Guidance is that pregnancy discrimination claims are not limited to the current pregnancy under the PDA – they can be based on “past pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” Thus, the EEOC will more likely find a causal connection between a past pregnancy and the challenged employment action if there is close timing between the two, however a longer time gap between the pregnancy and the challenged action will not foreclose a finding of pregnancy discrimination.
On April 15, 2014, a California appeals court ruled that after an employee returns to work from leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an employer can require a medical reevaluation related to the health condition for which the employee was granted FMLA leave, so long as it is job related and consistent with business necessity. Read More
Late last month, in the Southern District of Florida, adult entertainers at several Rick’s Cabaret locations filed a lawsuit alleging that they were improperly categorized (and thus improperly compensated) as independent contractors rather than employees. See Espinoza, et al. v. Rick’s Cabaret Int’l, Inc., Case No. 1:13-cv-24565-UU. In light of recent decisions, Rick’s—like other employers classifying workers as independent contractors—should proceed with caution.
The past several months have seen a spate of rulings adverse to employers in the adult entertainment context. Early last year, a Southern District of New York judge approved an $8 million settlement for a class of dancers at another adult establishment who alleged that they were misclassified as independent contractors. See In re: Penthouse Executive Club Compensation Litigation, Case No. 1:10-cv-01145. In September 2013, in a different S.D.N.Y. case, the court in Hart, et al. v. Rick’s Cabaret Int’l, Inc. found that dancers at the New York club location were employees, not independent contractors, for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the New York Labor Law. And just last week a Northern District of Georgia judge who previously certified a class of adult entertainers who alleged they were wrongly classified as independent contractors granted the entertainers’ summary judgment motion with respect to their status as employees under the FLSA. See Stevenson, et al. v. The Great American Dream, Inc., No. 1:12-CV-3359-TWT.
In finding no independent contractor relationship in Hart, the court cited the existence of club guidelines that governed dancers’ dress/appearance (e.g., body glitter forbidden, 4-inch stiletto heels required), behavior in the club (e.g., gum chewing or using a cell phone on the dance floor prohibited), when dancers could be scheduled to work, various fees dancers were required to pay, and manner of performance (e.g., prohibition on more than one knee touching the ground when performing on stage). Of virtually no significance was the fact that there were signed agreements between dancers and Rick’s Cabaret expressing that the employment relationship was that of an independent contractor.
Irrespective of industry, companies that utilize independent contractors are well advised to periodically reexamine the economic realities of those relationships.
The United States Supreme Court is now in session and three cases stand out on the docket that private employers will want to follow. While not the blockbusters heard during the Court’s last session, these cases will address important issues ranging from the proper interpretation of Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s whistleblower provision to the breadth of the President’s recess-appointment power to what constitutes “changing clothes” under the FLSA. Read More
Resolving a split among the circuits, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a “supervisor” for Title VII harassment liability is limited to those who have the power to take a tangible employment action against the alleged victim (e.g., hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or discipline). Merely overseeing and directing the alleged victim’s daily work is insufficient to meet this heightened standard. Read More
The U.S. Supreme Court held on Monday that a plaintiff alleging retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) must prove that retaliation was the “but-for” reason for an adverse employment decision. The mixed-motive analysis, whereby a plaintiff need only show that the illegal reason played a part in the decision, now no longer applies to retaliation cases. Read More
Lest there be any lingering confusion, the U.S. Supreme Court has once again reminded us that arbitration agreements are to be “rigorously enforced.” In this latest installment of pro-arbitration decisions from the high court, a majority of the justices (5-3) upheld a class arbitration waiver as enforceable even when the cost of individually arbitrating a federal statutory claim exceeds the potential recovery. Although the decision arose in the antitrust context, the broad language in the opinion opens the door for enforcement of class action waivers in wage-and-hour class and collective actions where employers have included such waivers in their arbitration agreements with their employees. Read More
So far in 2013, three states (Arkansas, New Mexico and Utah) have passed new social media legislation restricting employer access to employees and job applicants’ personal social media accounts. We previously posted about social media legislation in California and other states here and here. Read More
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Standard Fire Insurance Co. v. Knowles confirms that a plaintiff cannot avoid federal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”) by stipulating that the class will seek less than CAFA’s $5 million amount in controversy threshold. Read More