Class Certification Was Properly Denied To Retail Store Managers

Mora v. Big Lots Stores, Inc., 194 Cal. App. 4th 496 (2011)

Putative class representatives Ana Mora, et al., asserted claims for unpaid overtime, meal and rest periods and related wage-and-hour violations against their former employer Big Lots Stores, Inc. and its affiliate PNS Stores, Inc. Plaintiffs asserted that they and similarly situated Big Lots store managers were misclassified as exempt employees because the actual work performed involved a significant amount of time spent on non-exempt tasks. The trial court denied the motion to certify the class on the ground that the company does not operate its stores in a standardized manner and has no systematic practice of misclassification of its managers. The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that plaintiffs’ reliance on job descriptions rather than an analysis of the actual work performed by the managers, which varied among the 178 stores in question, was insufficient to support certification of a class. See also Starbucks Corp. v. Superior Court, 2011 WL 1535268 (Cal. Ct. App. 2011) (trial court improperly ordered Starbucks to randomly review job applications in an effort to assist plaintiffs’ counsel in finding a “suitable” class representative to sue Starbucks for alleged violation of the statute protecting job applicants from having to disclose minor marijuana convictions more than two years old).