California, with some of the most stringent labor regulations in the country, has historically been a hotbed of employment litigation for local, national and international corporations. For decades, our clients—Fortune 100 employers and industry leaders in their respective fields—have sought our assistance when the stakes are high and the law emerging and uncharted. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s ability to offer clients comprehensive service is built on our extensive experience handling cases at every stage and helping our clients achieve the best possible outcome, whether by early settlement or through trial and appeal. Our continued diligence in finding the best solution to labor and employment matters affecting tens of thousands of employees is the reason our clients—some of the most recognized and respected businesses in the United States—have continued to turn to our California labor and employment legal team.
Our class and collective action experience includes:
- employee classification
- meal periods and rest breaks
- “off -the-clock” work
- wage payment issues
- issues related to payment and distribution of tips
- independent contractor versus employee issues
- preliminary and postliminary activities
- compensability of time under collective bargaining agreements.
- Representation of an international hospitality company in a class action involving rest break, meal period and off-the-clock claims. Trial court’s certification of class was reversed on appeal by the Court of Appeal; an appeal to the California Supreme Court followed to clarify the meal and rest break standards. In its decision, the California Supreme Court found, among other key findings, that while employers must provide meal and rest breaks for their employees, they do not have to force employees to take breaks they would prefer to skip. The court remanded for determination whether class could be certified under the clarified meal and rest break standards while reversing outright the off-the-clock work class certification order.
- Representation of a long-time food services/retail client in a putative class action including more than 100,000 current and former California employees alleging various wage and hour claims against the company. In November 2011, the Central District of California overwhelmingly denied class certification, including with respect to the plaintiff’s claims for meal break violations, rest break violations, off-the-clock work and late payment of final wages. Additionally, the court granted summary judgment on several of the plaintiff’s claims for wage statement violations. In another California matter for this client, our attorneys succeeded in overturning a $100 million trial court verdict on appeal in class litigation challenging the company’s tip distribution policies.
- Representation of a Fortune 100 home improvement retailer in a number of putative wage and hour class actions in California, including three statewide class action lawsuits alleging novel claims for violations of the California Labor Code Private Attorney General Act based on the company’s failure to provide suitable seating to cashiers and store greeters. These “suitable seating” cases are of great significance to California retailers.
- Representation of another long-time client, a Fortune 100 U.S.-based accounting firm, in several class actions challenging the firm’s treatment of certain professional employees as exempt from California, New York and federal overtime laws. The cases are multiple interrelated class actions involving issues of class certification, substitution of class representatives, arbitrations and transfer of venue. In September 2011, the Northern District of California denied certification of a putative class of audit professionals, by far the largest group for which the plaintiffs sought certification. Also in 2011, a New York court granted the firm’s motion to dismiss a similar class action, ordering that the plaintiff arbitrate his claims on an individual basis.