Disclosure of employees' names and addresses in wage/hour class actions upheld

Employers involved in wage and hour class actions likely will NOT be able to successfully object to (pre-certification) disclosure of names and addresses of putative class members.

We previously covered Pioneer Electronics v. Superior Court (Olmstead), in which the California Supreme Court said that disclosure of class contact information was OK if the putative class member had the opportunity to "opt out" of disclosure. But Pioneer was a consumer class action, not an employment law case. Everyone knows employees have reasonable expectations of privacy in personnel information. Employment cases are different. Pioneer won't apply, right?

Wrong. The Court of Appeal in Belaire-West Landscape v. Superior Court (Rodriguez) applied Pioneer to a wage and hour class action. The Court briefly touched on the difference between an employee's privacy interest in personnel records voluntarily disclosed to an employer, but basically said that the ability to "opt out" of disclosure was sufficient protection of that privacy interest.

The disclosure of putative class members' names and addresses may be significant, depending on how the plaintiffs' bar uses the information. Maybe there will be a backlash against the plaintiffs' bar for bothering employees at home. Maybe plaintiffs will submit a lot more hostile declarations in support of class certification motions. Time will tell.