Try, Try Again: The California Supreme Court Sends “Fundamentally Flawed” Duran Case Back to the Trial Court

Employment class action defendants in California who were hoping for an unequivocal statement that statistical sampling has no place in class actions are likely to be disappointed by today’s ruling in Duran v. U.S. Bank, N.A.  The California Supreme Court cautiously left all avenues to certification open, stating that a “[s]tatistical sampling may provide an appropriate means of proving liability and damages in some wage and hour class actions.” (Emphasis added.)  But despair not!  The bulk of the opinion agreed with the court of appeal in finding the trial court’s methods “profoundly flawed,” recognized the “thorny” issues of proof that arise in misclassification cases, and reaffirmed a court’s obligation to consider the manageability of individual issues in certifying a class action.  The Court’s instructions to lower courts and litigants to determine – as an integral part of class certification – whether the case can be manageably tried are likely to aid employers in certification battles to come.     Read More

Prisoner 24601 May Report For Duty, Says the EEOC

Can the EEOC require employers to hire convicted criminals? Last April, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued a policy guideline that calls into question the extent to which employers can incorporate a check of criminal records into a hiring decision without risking legal liability.[1]  Read More

California Court of Appeal Overturns $1.3 Million in Damages and Attorneys’ Fees against Lucasfilm for Failure to Give Instruction on Business Judgment

On December 10, 2012, in Veronese v. Lucasfilm Ltd., a California Court of Appeal overturned a Marin County jury’s verdict against Lucasfilm based on its finding that several errors in jury instructions prejudicially affected the verdict. Plaintiff had sued under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) for pregnancy discrimination and related claims when she accepted, but did not start, in a temporary position at Lucasfilm. After eleven days of testimony and three days of deliberation, a jury awarded Veronese a total of $113,800 in damages and the trial court awarded Veronese $1,157,411 in attorneys’ fees. Lucasfilm challenged both the judgment and the fee award. Lucasfilm argued that the trial court judge erred in giving certain instructions proposed by Veronese, failing to give certain instructions proposed by Lucasfilm, and failing to instruct on certain issues submitted to the jury. Notably, this Court of Appeal decision appears to be the first California appellate decision reversing a jury verdict for an employee based on failure to give a business judgment instruction. Read More

Harris v. Superior Court, No. B195121 (Cal. App. July 23, 2012)

Is it “here we go again” for Harris? In the latest round of the donnybrook that is the administrative exemption in California, a California Court of Appeal in Harris v. Super. Ct., No. B195121 (Cal. App. July 23, 2012), held that the plaintiffs, insurance claims adjusters, were—as a matter of law—not exempt from California’s overtime laws under California’s administrative exemption. After a trial court certified a partial class of California claims adjusters, but denied plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, the parties appealed the decision all the way to the California Supreme Court. Read More