Retailer loses key part of wage and hour case
July 14, 2017
• Supreme Court says company must provide info for all stores, not just where plaintiff worked
• “The right to discovery in this state is a broad one, to be construed liberally”
Essentially reaffirming California’s stands on class action lawsuits, the state Supreme Court has come down on the side of a worker suing Marshalls of California LLC over supposedly missed meal breaks.
Michael Williams sought contact information for fellow California employees to bolster his lawsuit but had been rebuffed by trial and appellate courts, which said he could only have it for the store where he worked.
He’s found support at the highest level, however.
“The right to discovery in this state is a broad one, to be construed liberally so that parties may ascertain the strength of their case and at trial the truth may be determined,” the California Supreme Court says in reversing the lower courts and sending the case back for trial.
Nothing in the characteristics of a PAGA [Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004] suit, essentially a qui tam action filed on behalf of the state to assist it with labor law enforcement, affords a basis for restricting discovery more narrowly. Nor, on this record, do other objections interposed in the trial court support the trial court‘s order,” the state’s highest court says.
Mr. Williams worked for Marshalls at its Costa Mesa store. He sued the company in 2013, contending Marshalls failed to provide him and other employees meal and rest periods -- or compensation in lieu of the required breaks.
According to the complaint, on a companywide basis, Marshalls understaffed stores, required employees to work during meal periods without compensation, and directed managers to erase meal period violations from its time records. It also contends that Marshalls also adopted a systematic, companywide policy to pay no premiums for missed breaks.
Marshalls of California is a unit of Framingham, Massachusetts-based TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE: TJX).
"We do not comment on pending litigation," a TJX spokeswoman says in an email to CVBT.