In Johnson v Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company a former non-exempt hourly employee filed a putative collective action for failure to pay regular and overtime wages. Johnson alleged that at the end of his shift, after clocking out, he was often required to deposit the day's earnings at a bank, and that Goodyear never compensated him for these bank runs, which usually took about 15 minutes.
The California District Court denied Johnson's motion for collective action certification, holding that individualised issues predominated because Johnson's "idiosyncratic" experience on uncompensated time was not closely aligned with other employees' experience.
Specifically, the court noted that Goodyear's policy regarding the bank runs was facially lawful, and that Johnson had failed to establish a common policy or practice of not ensuring proper payment of wages and overtime. The court relied on declaration testimony from other employees, who stated that they completed their bank runs on the clock or were compensated for them in finding that "the manner and timing of bank runs varied between supervisors and locations; therefore, any claim based on uncompensated bank runs would necessarily entail individualized inquiries that would dwarf any common questions".
The district court's decision underscores the importance for employers of having facially compliant policies. Employers should review their handbooks and policies to ensure that they are valid. Having facially valid policies makes it more difficult for employees to succeed in class and collective actions, since employees are then required to establish uniform policies and practices that diverge from the employers written policies for certification purposes.
For further information on this topic please contact Grant T Miller, Andrea Maldonado Weiss or Ruth Zadikany at Mayer Brown LLP's Los Angeles office by telephone (+1 213 229 9500) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). Alternatively contact Richard E Nowak at Mayer Brown LLP's Chicago office by telephone (+1 312 782 0600) or email (email@example.com). The Mayer Brown International LLP website can be accessed at www.mayerbrown.com.
Lori Zahalka assisted in the preparation of this update.
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