Court of Appeal Affirms Denial of Class Certification in Retail Store Exemption Case

The Court of Appeal in Mora v. Big Lots Stores held the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to certify a class of hundreds of Big Lots store managers. This is another exemption class action decision, but it's interesting for a few reasons.

First, the plaintiffs went after store managers of  HUGE discount stores, where the store manager was the only exempt manager, supervising dozens of employees. They should stop doing that. (They're not going to listen).

Second, the courts are tired of the argument that larger corporations standardize their policies such that managers are necessarily non-exempt. As I just discussed in the Marlo v. UPS post, that argument does not fly. (Good news for you larger corporations).

Third, the trial court credited the employer's detailed and individualized declarations of its managers over the boiler-plate declarations submitted by the plaintiffs. Winning a class certification motion may well turn on the quality of the declarations and other evidence submitted.

Finally, the court's opinion is a good example of how the Supreme Court's decision inSav-On Drug Stores, Inc. v. Superior Court  (2004) 34 Cal.4th 319 has affected class action law in California. The Court of Appeal does not disturb class certification decisions if (1) there is substantial evidence to support the trial court's finding (either way) and (2) the trial court applies the right legal standards. This of course can cut in favor of either the employees or the employer, depending on who won in the trial court. Needless to say, it's important to win there.

The case is Mora v. Big Lots Stores and the opinion is here.