Batze v. Safeway, Inc.

The trial court’s finding that plaintiffs were exempt administrative employees, not entitled to overtime pay, was supported by substantial, properly admitted evidence showing plaintiffs spent more than 50% of their work time on administrative tasks.  Substantial evidence supported the trial court’s findings that the plaintiffs who were assistant store managers were exempt administrative or executive personnel and thus not entitled to overtime pay.  The evidence showed that the plaintiffs worked more than 50% of the time on administrative tasks.  In making that determination, the court did not have to have the employer present evidence regarding each contested week of employment but could infer from evidence about tasks performed one week what plaintiffs did on other weeks as to which there was no specific evidence.  The trial court could also properly characterize work as administrative depending on the purpose for which the plaintiff performed a task.  So that work an hourly employee might perform could properly be characterized as administrative if plaintiffs engaged in it to support their administrative duties.  Finally, work done during a strike did not count as it fell within the wage order’s emergency exception.  This decision also affirms the trial court’s ruling that plaintiff employees were not entitled to American Pipe tolling.  The earlier putative class action had been decertified due to a lack of commonality.  The discrepancies between the claims of plaintiffs and class members was too great to put the defendant on notice of the need to preserve evidence regarding the claims of thousands of store managers and assistant managers at each of its stores.

California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 4 (Manella, J.); April 4, 2017; 2017 WL 1231382

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