Arenas v. El Torito Restaurants, Inc., 183 Cal. App. 4th 723 (2010)

The plaintiffs in this case are salaried managers at El Torito, El Torito Grill and GuadalaHarry’s restaurants in California from May 2002 to the present. Plaintiffs alleged they were misclassified as employees exempt from overtime because they routinely spent more than half of their working hours performing duties delegated to non-exempt employees such as operating and closing cash registers, preparing food products, cooking, preparing drinks, tending bar, etc. In support of their motion to certify the class, plaintiffs alleged common questions of law and fact, including that all managers share the same or similar employment duties and activities, are automatically classified as exempt, and are denied the benefits and protections of the employment laws and regulations in the same manner. Plaintiffs moved for certification of three subclasses of employees: kitchen managers, department managers and general managers. The trial court denied class certification after determining that resolution of the common issues would require mini-trials concerning the circumstances of each individual’s job duties. The Court of Appeal affirmed, agreeing with the trial court’s conclusion that “managers, based solely on their job descriptions, were as a rule misclassified was not amenable to common proof.” See also Weigele v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., 2010 WL 1337031 (S.D. Cal. 2010) (granting FedEx’s motion to decertify class of former managers).