Ninth Circuit Vacates Class Certification

Wells Fargo treated a class of loan specialists as exempt from overtime. The district court certified the class action. Although there were a number of factors requiring the court to make an individual inquiry regarding the employees' duties, the court decided that Wells' policy of classifying as exempt all employees performing the given job was enough to justify certification of the class.

The Ninth Circuit disagreed:

Whether a [uniform exemption] policy is in place or not, courts must still ask where the individual employees actually spent their time. As one court succinctly explained, “[t]he fact that an employer classifies all or most of a particular class of employees as exempt does not eliminate the need to make a factual determination as to whether class members are actually performing similar duties.” Campbell, 253 F.R.D. at 603. In short, Wells Fargo’s uniform exemption policy says little about the main concern in the predominance inquiry: the balance between individual and common issues. As such, we hold that the district court abused its discretion in relying on that policy to the near exclusion of other factors relevant to the predominance inquiry.
The case is Mevorah v. Wells Fargo Home Mtg. and the opinion is here.