No Class Certification for Meal & Rest Break Case against Tenet Healthcare; Individual Issues Predominate

One of the central issues in wage & hour litigation is whether the case is suitable for class action treatment.  Indeed, the class certification issue is the most contentious wage & hour issue outside of the classification question.

In Tien v. Tenet Healthcare Corporation, the court of appeal affirmed denial of class certification in a ruling that is sure to be cited by defendants around the state.

To have a class action, there must be a common issue of fact uniting all the class members – or at least the case must be amenable to “group” adjudication. In this case, however the court ruled that the employer’s obligation was merely to provide breaks – not to insure the employees actually took them. In this regard, the court was treading on water before the state supreme court in the Brinker case, which is pending.  But there is ample precedent for the ruling (see, for example, Brown v. Federal Express Corp., 249 F.R.D. 580 (C.D. Cal. 2008)).

Given that reality, the court reasoned that each individual class member would have to come forward and show individual facts as to why he/she did not take a break that was offered.  Such a situation, said the court, was not a proper context for a class action.

A copy of this ruling is attached for your convenience.

Our firm regularly advises employers, unions, and individual employees about issues that arise in the workplace. Feel free to give us a call if you have questions or issues in this area.

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