Posts in Wage-Hour Class Actions.
Blogs
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Here’s a question you likely have never considered: Are hackers overseas infiltrating employers’ computer systems just to sign arbitration agreements with class action waivers for random employees?

While there is no evidence that this has ever happened anywhere, and no logical reason why it would, plaintiffs’ lawyers and even some courts seem to believe this could happen. And that is at the heart of the latest battleground over arbitration agreements with class actions waivers.

Since the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Epic Systems v. Lewis, more and more ...

Blogs
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The Clash famously asked “Should I stay, or should I go?” on their 1982 album, Combat Rock, and with recent attacks on non-competes at both the state and federal level, some employers are imposing additional costs on employees who take advantage of an employer’s training opportunities only to leave and join a competitor. So-called “stay or pay” clauses, or training-repayment-agreement-provisions (TRAPs), typically require an employee to pay the employer the cost the employer incurred to train the employee if the employee leaves their employment within a certain ...

Blogs
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For more than a few years -- at least since the United States Supreme Court’s seminal 2017 decision in Epic Systems v. Lewis -- employers across the country have weighed whether to have their employees sign arbitration agreements with class and collective action waivers. 

While many employers have chosen to do so, many have elected not to. 

Blogs
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On March 10, 2023, a unanimous three-judge panel upheld an Oregon federal court’s ruling that time Amazon employees spent undergoing mandatory security screenings before and after work shifts and off-premises meal breaks was not compensable, as the screenings were not integral and indispensable to their jobs under state law.

Blogs
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Following the California Supreme Court’s remand of Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc., the California Court of Appeal in that same case held that the defendant-employer had not committed “knowing and intentional” violations of the wage statement statute by not including meal period premiums on the wage statements and had not “willfully” paid all wages due at the end of employment by not previously paying meal period premiums that were owed. The Court held that, although the employer did not prevail on its defense that employees in a certified class action were subject to valid on-duty meal period agreements, neither waiting time penalties (capped at 30 days’ of wages at the daily rate of pay for each former employee) nor wage statement penalties (capped at $4,000 per employee) could be imposed against the employer given the good faith dispute that any meal period premiums were owed.

Blogs
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Our colleague Michael S. Kun at Epstein Becker Green was recently quoted in SHRM, in “Distinctions Among Class, Collective and Representative Actions Make a Difference,” by Allen Smith.

Following is an excerpt:

The terms “class,” “collective” and “representative” actions sometimes are bandied about as though they were the same thing, but they have distinct meanings that employers benefit from understanding. This article, the second in a series, examines the differences among these types of lawsuits and practical ramifications, such as how an employer might seek early resolution, as well as how certification of a class or collective action affects whether an employer’s attorney may speak with plaintiffs.

Blogs
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Our colleague Michael S. Kun at Epstein Becker Green was recently quoted in SHRM, in “How to Respond to Class Actions,” by Allen Smith.

Following is an excerpt:

Frequently involving wage and hour issues, class actions against employers can result in lengthy litigation, but early response to them may reduce damages. This article, the first in a two-part series on class actions, examines strategies for responding to such actions, including how to interact with current employees who are seeking information on a lawsuit. The second part explains the differences among class, collective and representative actions. …

Blogs
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Litigators who defend cases brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), particularly ‘collective actions” alleging wage-and-hour violations, often have been able to counter, or even sometimes support, allegations that arbitration agreements have been waived where the conduct of a party has caused prejudice to the other side. In the case of Morgan v. Sundance, Inc., a unanimous Supreme Court has now held that the determinant of waiver is solely dependent upon the nature and magnitude of the actions of the party that might be inconsistent with arbitration, without respect to alleged prejudice.

Blogs
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In a recent post addressing the U.S. Supreme Court oral argument in Viking River Cruises v. Moriana, we mentioned that employers in California will want to consider the “pros and cons” of arbitration agreements should an employer-friendly decision be issued in that case, rather than rush to implement them.

In response, more than a few people have asked the same or similar questions -- What are the “cons” of arbitration agreements? Why wouldn’t an employer want to use arbitration agreements, particularly if they will foreclose Private Attorney General Act (“PAGA”) actions in California?

There are “cons” to these agreements -- and they are not insignificant.

Blogs
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Silence can be telling.

That is especially so in the legal industry.

In the context of a hearing or oral argument, if judges or justices don’t ask an attorney a question, it can be incredibly encouraging – or incredibly discouraging.  It often means that the judges or justices have already made up their minds after having read the parties’ briefs and simply don’t have any questions or don’t need to hear anything more.

Blogs
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November 3, 2020 has been circled on the calendars of app-based ride share and food delivery companies doing business in California for many months now.  After a new ruling by the California Court of Appeal, those companies have likely gone back and circled that date a few more times in thick red ink.

On November 3, 2020, California voters will decide the fate of Proposition 22, the ballot initiative that, if passed, will allow app-based ride share and food delivery companies to treat drivers as independent contractors rather than as employees, carving them out of California’s ...

Blogs
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In response to the increased use and enforcement of class and collective action waivers, plaintiffs’ attorneys are now relying on a new strategy to gain leverage over businesses.  More specifically, they have started to commence mass arbitrations by simultaneously filing hundreds—and in some cases, thousands—of individual arbitration demands in an effort to trigger a business’ obligation to pay its share of filing fees for the arbitrations.

Depending on the number of arbitration demands at issue, the filing fees alone can add up to tens of millions of dollars.

Postmates ...

Blogs
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Many employers with operations in California may already be familiar with Frlekin v. Apple, Inc.  The heavily litigated case, first filed in 2013, involves claims that Apple retail employees are entitled to compensation for time spent waiting for and undergoing mandatory exit searches.

The Ninth Circuit has now concluded that those employees are entitled to be paid for that time, holding that they are entitled to an award of summary judgment in their favor.  That is a far cry from the original 2015 ruling in the case in which United States District Court Judge William Alsup denied the ...

Blogs
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In this installment of Epstein Becker Green’s “Class Action Avoidance” webinar series, attorney Paul DeCamp discusses wage and hour issues that could arise from transitioning out of the work-from-home reality so many businesses have faced and into the return-to-work phase.

Employers across the country should focus on creating a safe working environment. Certain states and localities have required that employers bringing employees back to the workspace provide or pay for any mandatory personal protective equipment (PPE), including thermometers, gloves, and masks ...

Blogs
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In this installment of Epstein Becker Green’s “Class Action Avoidance” webinar series, attorney Michael S. Kun addresses potential wage and hour class actions related to expense reimbursement for employees working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many employers may have employees working from home for the first time—or at least have employees in certain job categories doing so for the first time. Even employees who sometimes worked from home previously may be doing so for much more time now and, arguably, incurring greater expenses as a result.

This webinar will ...

Blogs
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Given the ever-increasing number of wage-hour class and collective actions being filed against employers, it is no surprise that many employers have turned to arbitration agreements with class and collective action waivers as a first line of defense, particularly after the United States Supreme Court’s landmark 2018 Epic Systems v. Lewis decision.

If there is a common misconception about Epic Systems, however, it is that the Supreme Court concluded that all arbitration agreements with all employees are enforceable under all circumstances.  The Court reached no such ...

Blogs
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Our colleague Jonathan Assia Class Action Mooted When Class Representative Settles, Ninth Circuit Rules.

Following is an excerpt:

On June 3, 2020, the Ninth Circuit dismissed a wage and hour class action on the grounds that once the class representative plaintiff settled his individual claims and no longer had any financial stake in the litigation’s outcome, the entire litigation was moot.

In Brady v. AutoZone Stores, Inc. and Autozoners, LLC ...

Blogs
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During the Covid-19 pandemic, companies should focus in the first instance on health and safety issues for workers, customers, and the public at large during a pandemic, but they cannot lose sight of the wage and hour risks that are lurking in these challenging times.

For a staggering number of U.S. businesses over the past several weeks, the early and middle part of 2020 will look something like this:

Reduced customer demand or government-ordered site closures lead to furloughs or layoffs of a significant part of the workforce. Where feasible, employees work from home. As local ...

Blogs
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As the number of U.S. states reporting cases of COVID-19 coronavirus increases, many employers are imposing mandatory work from home (“WFH”) policies to mitigate risk of contamination and ensure business continuity.  Some employers are requiring employees who have travelled to or received visitors from mainland China (or other areas with high infection rates) and those with fever or other flu-like symptoms to remain at home for 14 days, while others are instructing half or more, up to their entire workforce, to work remotely until further notice.  Whatever the form, employers ...

Blogs
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A number of years ago – 20 perhaps – someone shared with me a study that was conducted by a major university where participants were asked which professions they most distrust.

My recollection is that it was conducted at Duke University, but I could be wrong.  (I do remember distinctly that there were 998 participants in the survey, which still seems like a peculiar number to me.  They couldn’t find two more people?)

In any event, one spot from the top of the list of most distrusted professions (or the bottom, depending on your perspective) was used car salespersons.  Yes, I know, a ...

Blogs
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Our colleague Stuart M. Gerson at Epstein Becker Green recently posted an article on LinkedIn that will be of interest to our readers: “SCOTUS Today: Class Action Ambiguity Finds No Shelter Under the Federal Arbitration Act.”

Following is an excerpt:

In a 5-4 opinion (divided on expected conservative/liberal lines), authored by the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court has ruled in the case of Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varella, No. 17-988, that under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), an ambiguous agreement cannot provide the necessary contractual basis for concluding that ...

Blogs
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The question whether an individual may be held liable for alleged wage-hour violations is one that occasionally arises in class action litigation – and, for obvious reasons, it is one that is particularly important to individuals who own entities or who are responsible for overseeing wage-hour compliance.

In Atempa v. Pedrazzani, the California Court of Appeal held that persons responsible for overtime and/or minimum wage violations in fact can be held personally liable for civil penalties, regardless of whether they were the employer or the employer is a limited liability ...

Blogs
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In most wage and hour cases, each workweek gives rise to a separate claim, at least for statute of limitations purposes. Thus, an employee seeking payment for alleged off-the-clock work or an independent contractor claiming misclassification and entitlement to overtime ordinarily may seek back wages and related recovery only for work performed within a set amount of time—usually two to six years preceding the filing of the complaint, depending on the jurisdiction—preceding the filing of the complaint. But what happens to the statute of limitations when a plaintiff tries to ...

Blogs
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More than 7 months after hearing oral argument on an issue that will affect countless employers across the country – whether employers may implement arbitration agreements with class action waivers -- the United States Supreme Court has issued what is bound to be considered a landmark decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis (a companion case to National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA and Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris), approving the use of such agreements.

The decision will certainly have a tremendous impact upon pending wage-hour class and collective actions, many of which ...

Blogs
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In Moon et al v. Breathless, Inc., the Third Circuit reviewed the dismissal of a class and collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law and the New Jersey Wage Payment Law.  The District Court for the District of New Jersey had dismissed the named plaintiff’s claims based on an arbitration clause in the written agreement between the her and Breathless, the club where she worked as a dancer.

In her lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that she and other dancers were misclassified as independent contractors, and that Breathless unlawfully failed to pay ...

Blogs
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When: Thursday, September 14, 2017 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Where: New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019

Epstein Becker Green’s Annual Workforce Management Briefing will focus on the latest developments in labor and employment law, including:

  • Immigration
  • Global Executive Compensation
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Internal Cyber Threats
  • Pay Equity
  • People Analytics in Hiring
  • Gig Economy
  • Wage and Hour
  • Paid and Unpaid Leave
  • Trade Secret Misappropriation
  • Ethics

We will start the day with two morning Plenary Sessions. The first session is kicked off ...

Blogs
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On April 3, 2017, a federal district court in New Jersey rejected the National Labor Relation Board’s (“NLRB”) D.R. Horton and Murphy Oil holdings and upheld employee waivers of class and collective arbitration. In dismissing wage and overtime claims brought by an employee of Chili’s Grill & Bar, District Judge Noel Hillman ruled that such mandatory arbitration agreements do not violate the National Labor Relations Act. Cicero v. Quality Dining, Inc., et al, 1:16-cv-05806 (April 3, 2017).

Judge Hillman noted the issue was pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, and that the ...

Blogs
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Our colleague Adriana S. Kosovych, associate at Epstein Becker Green, has a post on the Hospitality Employment and Labor blog that will be of interest to many of our readers: “Chipotle Exploits Wide Variation Among Plaintiffs to Defeat Class and Collective Certification.

Following is an excerpt:

A New York federal court recently declined to certify under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule 23”) six classes of salaried “apprentices” at Chipotle restaurants asserting claims for overtime pay under New York Labor Law (“NYLL”) and parallel state ...

Blogs
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Featured on Employment Law This Week - “For Want of a Comma.” It seems that punctuation was a key factor in a recent class action suit from a group of dairy delivery drivers in Maine.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that an exemption in the states overtime law is ambiguous enough to support the drivers’ overtime claim. The drivers argued that the exemption applies only to workers who pack perishable food products for distribution—and not those who actually distribute the products. On appeal, the First Circuit agreed that a missing “Oxford” comma makes ...

Blogs
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On February 28, 2017, the California Court of Appeal issued its opinion in Vaquero v. Stoneledge Furniture, LLC. The opinion provides guidance to California employers who pay their hourly employees on a commission basis but do not pay separate compensation for time spent during rest periods.

In the case, the employer kept track of hours worked and paid hourly sales associates on a commission basis where, if an employee failed to earn a minimum amount in commissions – comprising of at least $12.01 per hour in commission pay in any pay period – then the employee was paid a “draw” ...

Blogs
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On January 13, 2017, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to hear three cases involving the enforceability of arbitration agreements that contain class action waivers.

Whether such agreements are enforceable has been a hotly contested issue for several years now, particularly in cases involving wage-hour disputes.

The Fifth Circuit has held that such waivers can be enforceable (NLRB v. Murphy Oil, Inc.), joining the Second and Eighth Circuits in that conclusion. The Seventh (Epic Systems, Inc. v. Lewis) and Ninth Circuits (Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris) have held that ...

Blogs
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One of the most controversial issues in employment law these days involves the position of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) that an employer violates the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) when it requires employees to pursue any dispute they have with their employer on an individual, rather than on a class or collective action, basis with other employees. It is a position that has been adopted by two circuit courts and rejected by three—a conflict that suggests that the issue is ripe for U.S. Supreme Court review.

The NLRB has contended that ...

Blogs
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When: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Where: New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019

Epstein Becker Green’s Annual Workforce Management Briefing will focus on the latest developments in labor and employment law, including:

  • Latest Developments from the NLRB
  • Attracting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce
  • ADA Website Compliance
  • Trade Secrets and Non-Competes
  • Managing and Administering Leave Policies
  • New Overtime Rules
  • Workplace Violence and Active-Shooter Situations
  • Recordings in the Workplace
  • Instilling Corporate Ethics
Blogs
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One of the top stories featured on Employment Law This Week: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reaffirms an employer’s time-rounding practice. A call-center employee in California recently brought a class action lawsuit against his employer for time-rounding practices. The employee claims that the policy caused him to be underpaid by a total of $15 over 13 months. Relying on a California Court of Appeals precedent, the Ninth Circuit found that the company’s facially neutral rounding policy—one that rounds time both up and down—is legal under California ...

Blogs
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The new episode of Employment Law This Week features the U.S. Supreme Court's easing of class certification standards in a case against Tyson Foods.

In Iowa, a group of Tyson employees brought a hybrid class and collective action for unpaid overtime spent changing clothes and walking to their work area. An expert determined the average amount of time spent on those activities, and the employees relied on those averages to get class certified and prove liability and damages. On appeal, Tyson argued that the employees should never have been grouped into a single class, because each ...

Blogs
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As we mentioned earlier this week, I was recently interviewed on our firm’s new video program, Employment Law This Week.  The show has now released “bonus footage” from that episode – see below.

I elaborate on some of the reasons behind this year's sharp increase in federal wage-and-hour suits: worker-friendly rules, increased publicity around minimum wage and overtime issues, and the difficulties of applying an outdated law to today's “gig” economy.

[embed]https://youtu.be/Vd3K-9Dfvk4?list=PLi4sj4jEe5heNkhVnjMTh94ipZhPPpMVh[/embed]

Blogs
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The top story on Employment Law This Week – Epstein Becker Green’s new video program – is the record high for Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuits in 2015.

The number of federal wage-and-hour suits rose almost 8% this year. There are many reasons for the increase, including more worker-friendly rules and increased publicity around minimum wage and overtime issues. Some point to the difficulties of applying an outdated law to our modern day economy.

Jeff Ruzal, co-editor of this blog, is interviewed. Click below to view the episode.

Blogs
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Employment Law This Week – Epstein Becker Green’s new video program – has a story this week on off-the-clock security screenings, which are under scrutiny around the country. Two federal class actions challenging them have reached different outcomes.

Bath & Body Works recently agreed to settle a suit in California over unpaid overtime and off-the-clock security inspections. But a federal judge in the same state dismissed a similar class action against Apple in which retail workers claimed that they should be compensated for time spent having their bags checked. The judge ...

Blogs
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In recent years, employers across the country have faced a great many class action and collective action lawsuits in which employees have alleged they are entitled to be paid for the time spent in security screenings before they leave their employers’ premises – but after they have already clocked out for the day.  Retailers have been particularly susceptible to these claims as many require employees to undergo “bag checks” before they depart their stores to ensure that employees are not attempting to carry merchandise out in their bags or coats.

In late 2014, in Integrity ...

Blogs
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Featured in Employment Law This Week – Epstein Becker Green’s new video program: Beauty school students are not entitled to wages - that was the conclusion reached by federal judges in two different cases where the students challenged the practice of serving salon customers in a clinical setting.

In both cases, the Court held that the students had not proven that the educational benefit they received was outweighed by the unpaid work they did, and they therefore did not qualify for minimum wages and overtime. Unpaid internships are under a lot of scrutiny right now by the ...

Blogs
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The Administrator of the Wage Hour Division of U.S. Department of Labor has issued an Administrator’s Interpretation of the FLSA’s definition of “employ.” And the conclusion is one that not only could have a significant impact on the way companies do business, but lead to numerous class and collective actions alleging that workers have been misclassified as independent contractors.

Addressing the misclassification of employees as independent contractors, the Administrator’s Interpretation notes that the FLSA’s defines the term “employ” as “to suffer ...

Blogs
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Our colleague Jeffrey H. Ruzal recently wrote an article entitled “Illinois Court Holds That Meal Credit Program Is Valid,” which appears in the September 2014 issue of Hospitality Law.

Following is an excerpt:

Providing an employee meal program may be a nice gesture, but requires companies that do so to maintain proper records in case their meal plans are challenged.  An Illinois appellate court recently affirmed a circuit court’s dismissal of plaintiff restaurant worker’s class action claim that defendant restaurant employer took improper deductions from ...

Blogs
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By Michael Kun

Much has already been written about last week’s California Supreme Court decision in Duran v. U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n, a greatly anticipated ruling that will have a substantial impact upon wage-hour class actions in California for years to come.  Much more will be written about the decision as attorneys digest it, as parties rely on it in litigation, and as the courts attempt to apply it.

In a lengthy and unanimous opinion, the California Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeal’s decision to reverse a $15 million trial award in favor of a class of employees who ...

Blogs
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By: Kara M. Maciel

The following is a selection from the Firm's October Take 5 Views You Can Use which discusses recent developments in wage hour law.

  1. IRS Will Begin Taxing a Restaurant's Automatic Gratuities as Service Charges

Many restaurants include automatic gratuities on the checks of guests with large parties to ensure that servers get fair tips. This method allows the restaurant to calculate an amount into the total bill, but it takes away a customer's discretion in choosing whether and/or how much to tip the server. As a result of this removal of a customer's voluntary act, the ...

Blogs
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By Michael Kun

A California plaintiff who prevails in a wage-hour lawsuit generally may recover his or her attorney’s fees.  The same is so for employers -- but only for the next few months.

A new statute will take effect in January 2014 that will change whether and how an employer who prevails in such a case may recover its fees.  In a state already overrun with wage-hour lawsuits with questionable merit, that new statute seems to ensure that even more meritless wage-hour lawsuits will be filed by plaintiffs’ counsel who count on the in terrorem effect of those lawsuits to force ...

Blogs
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"Arbitration Agreement" "wage hour" "Dr. Horton" "Ernst & Young" "Ninth Circuit"
Blogs
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Michael Kun, co-founder of this blog and Member of Epstein Becker Green, was recently quoted in Inside Counsel about the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Wal-Mart v. Dukes decision upon wage-hour class actions.

The article, "Citing Dukes, Court Overturns Class Certification in Wage and Hour Dispute," focuses on the Ninth Circuit’s recent Wang v. Chinese Daily News decision, about which Michael has previously written in this blog.

Blogs
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By Michael Kun

“Hybrid” wage-hour class actions are by no means a new concept. 

In a “hybrid” class action, the named plaintiff files suit seeking to represent classes under both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and state wage-hour laws.  As the potential recovery and limitations periods for these claims are often very different, so, too, are the mechanisms used for each. 

In FLSA claims, where classes can be “conditionally certified” if a plaintiff satisfies a relatively low burden of establishing that class members are “similarly situated” – a ...

Blogs
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By Stuart Gerson

Wage-hour lawsuits filed under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) represent one of the fastest growing and most problematic areas of litigation facing employers today, especially when such cases are brought as collective actions. A recent Supreme Court case based in class action analysis provides a potentially-useful analog for employers to stave off such collective actions.

Class action criteria are set forth in Fed. R. Civ. P. 23, and they allow for one or more individual named plaintiffs to sue on behalf of a large – sometimes very large – group of ...

Blogs
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Exempt or non-exempt: That is the question. One of the most difficult areas in wage and hour law for retailers is properly classifying their managerial employees for purposes of determining if overtime need be paid or meal and rest breaks provided.
Blogs
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by Michael Kun

In 2005, Congress passed the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”) to ensure that large, interstate class actions could be heard in federal courts.  Under CAFA, federal courts have been given original jurisdiction over those class actions in which at least one party is diverse and the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million once all of the putative class members’ claims have been aggregated.

Likely before CAFA had even gone into effect, some plaintiffs’ lawyers devised a strategy to try to escape federal jurisdiction under CAFA – stipulating that they would ...

Blogs
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By Michael Kun

The Ninth Circuit has just issued an important new opinion that not only makes clear that the Supreme Court’s landmark Dukes v. Wal-Mart decision in fact applies to wage-hour claims, but also provides some very strong language for employers to rely upon in opposing class certification motions in wage-hour cases.

The Ninth Circuit decision decertifying the class that had been certified on overtime and meal break claims in Wang v. Chinese Daily News may be found here

The history of Chinese Daily News is a long and torturous one that could only be of interest to those ...

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