Court Affirms Jury Verdict Finding Safeway Manager Was Exempt From Overtime

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Safeway Wage & Hour Cases, 2019 WL 6954322 (Cal. Ct. App. 2019)

Following a jury trial, the trial court entered judgment in favor of Safeway on the ground that plaintiff William Cunningham was subject to the executive exemption and was, therefore, exempt from overtime. At trial, the main dispute was whether Cunningham spent most of his work time stocking shelves and checking (i.e., doing nonexempt work) or performing managerial tasks such as supervising, training and disciplining employees, assessing store conditions and filling out financial reports (i.e., doing exempt work). The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment in favor of Safeway, holding that “a task does not become exempt merely because the manager undertakes it in order to contribute to the smooth functioning of the store. An instruction on the consideration of the manager’s purpose, where appropriate, must inform the jury of relevant limiting principles outlined in the applicable regulations and recognized by our prior decisions. Additionally, we find no abuse of discretion in the admission of the contested expert testimony.”

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