Plaintiff filed a complaint against her former employer, Starbucks Corporation, asserting a representative cause of action under the Private Attorney General 2 Act (PAGA) (Labor Code, § 2698 et seq.), claiming Starbucks failed to properly provide meal breaks or pay meal period premiums for certain employees in violation of sections 226.7 and 512. In a bifurcated bench trial on Plaintiff’s action, the trial court determined Starbucks was liable for these violations and imposed penalties of $150,000, with 75 percent thereof payable to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) and 25 percent payable to Plaintiff and the employees she represented in the action. The trial court entered judgment in Plaintiff’s favor. Starbucks appealed, contending Plaintiff failed to prove she is an aggrieved employee and failed to prove a representative claim. The appeal court concluded there was no legal error and found that substantial evidence supported the judgment; accordingly, they affirmed.
I found this case most intriguing because I have been reading several recent cases in the California appeal courts reporting that large corporations operate their businesses by taking advantage of nonexempt employees’ wages. What is interesting in this case is that Starbuck’s referred to their nonexempt employees as “partners.” I have seen this misdirecting, like subtle brainwashing, by other large corporations, such as Sunrun, Inc., and is a direct attempt to mislead employees into thinking they are actually in business with the corporation, such as an independent contractor, so they will not seek wage and hour violations with the State of California Labor Commissioner. Our losses are your losses.
Nothing could be more despicable. This points to nothing but gross corporate greed to the detriment and disadvantage of nonexempt wage earners. I believe the law violations are intentional and flagrant. I see the practice statewide; especially the misclassification of a nonexempt employee as an independent contractor.
Which corporation is next? Peet’s Coffee? How much is one of their latte’s or machiatto’s? It’s outrageous and then to take advantage of working class employees’ earnings is brazen, to say the least.
See also Nishiki v. Danko Meredith, APC;
See also Diaz v. Grill Concepts Services, Inc.;
See also Huff v. Securitas Security Services USA, Inc. (PAGA case);
See also Furry v. East Bay Publishing;
Robert Rodriguez has represented both employees and employers at the State of California Labor Commissioner’s Office and in the State of California Superior Courts on wage and hour claims.
Robert Rodriguez has litigated well over 100 family law cases and civil litigation matters including personal injury motor vehicle cases, dog bite and slip & fall cases, breach of contract, defamation & invasion of privacy, fraud, unfair business practice, malicious prosecution, wrongful termination, workplace and employment matters including sexual harassment, wage & hour violations, discrimination pursuant to the FEHA, Gov’t Code §§ 12940 et seq., violations of the FMLA & Pregnancy Leave, Civil Rights discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the State of California and California federal district courts.
* Disclaimer – Robert Rodriguez is licensed to practice only in the State of California & this analysis is applied only under State of California law. Robert D. Rodriguez is also admitted to practice in the U.S. District Courts, Central, Northern & Eastern Districts of California. Robert Rodriguez has practiced in the State of California Court of Appeal.