Appeals Court Affirms Certification Denial in Call Center Employees’ Overtime Pay Suit

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed a lower court’s denial of class certification in a case that alleged Bank of America violated California law in determining how overtime wages were calculated for more than 5,000 employees working at the company’s 13 call centers in The Golden State.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Castillo v. Bank of America can be accessed by clicking here.

State law in California requires employers to pay non-exempt employees an overtime premium above their regular rate of pay.

A District Court judge ruled the plaintiffs lacked commonality, typicality, and predominance on claims the defendant failed to pay minimum wage and failed to provide second meal periods, and that the plaintiffs lacked predominance on a claim that the defendant failed to accurately pay overtime wages. The plaintiff appealed only the ruling on the overtime wage claim. Disagreeing with the District Court, the Ninth Circuit found that the plaintiff’s claims met the standard of commonality.

Ultimately, the Appeals Court agreed with the District Court judge that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate predominance in order to justify certifying the class. The defendant offer incentive bonuses to employees working in the call center, which were applied to the employees’ pay. If an employee also worked overtime, the bonus was factored in to determine overtime premiums. The defendant used two different formulas for the way that bonuses were calculated and paid, which led to the plaintiff filing her suit.

The plaintiff did not provide a common method of proof to determine liability because all of the call centers’ employees were included in the class, the Appeals Court ruled.

“When attempting to certify the class, Castillo sought to add every call center employee who worked during the class period,” the Appeals Court wrote. “She did not filter the putative class members to exclude those who were never exposed to either policy. So, the instant case is unlike cases involving non-payment of minimum wages, for instance, where by not being paid minimum wages, all putative class members who were not paid minimum wages suffered an injury.”

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