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Citing Dukes, 9th Circuit overturns class certification in wage and hour case

Decision demonstrates Dukes’ impact on employment class action cases

The 9th Circuit issued a decision earlier this week that could greatly impact wage and hour litigation going forward.

In Wang v. Chinese Daily News, the 9th Circuit on March 4 overturned the class certification of a wage and hour dispute, citing the landmark 2011 Supreme Court case Dukes v. Wal-Mart. In that case, the high court found that a lower court had improperly certified a class of 1.5 million female Wal-Mart employees who claimed the retailer’s policies and practices were discriminatory toward women.

Experts say the 9th Circuit’s decision in Wang demonstrates the power of Dukes in employment class actions.

“The 9th Circuit is known as probably the most employee-friendly circuit in the United States, and here is an instance where the 9th Circuit is overturning a liability award and a class certification,” Seyfarth Shaw Partner Gerald Maatman told Thomson Reuters. Maatman added that courts have been “reluctant” to apply Dukes to wage and hour cases, and Wang should pave the way for future decision in that area.

In Wang, current and former Chinese Daily News employees sued their employer in March 2004, claiming the Los Angeles-based Chinese-language news organization didn’t pay them for overtime or compensate them for meal and rest breaks. A court certified the plaintiffs as a class of 200, and they won more than $2.5 million in damages in a 2006 trial. Chinese Daily News appealed to the 9th Circuit, which affirmed the decision in 2010. But after Dukes, Chinese Daily News appealed to the high court, which vacated and remanded the 9th Circuit’s decision. On remand, the 9th Circuit on Monday remanded the case back to the district court to reconsider the question of class certification and vacated the portion of the class certification regarding meal and rest breaks.

Read Thomson Reuters for more about the 9th Circuit’s decision.

For more recent InsideCounsel news concerning labor and employment litigation, read:

Norfolk Southern will shell out $1.1 million to three whistleblowers

Wisconsin women file regional gender discrimination case against Wal-Mart in wake of Dukes

Court denies contraception coverage injunction

European Court provides guidance on religious freedom in the workplace

Contributing Author

Ashley Post

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