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Labor Law Class Action Defense Cases–Advanced-Tech v. Superior Court: California State Court Reverses Denial Of Defense Summary Judgment Motion Holding Class Action’s Failure To Pay Overtime Claim Failed As A Matter Of Law

Defense Entitled to Summary Judgment on Class Action Claim Seeking Triple Time for Overtime Hours Worked on Holidays because Employer Only Obligated to Pay Time-and-a-Half for Overtime, including Hours Worked on Holidays, California State Court Holds

Plaintiff, a security guard, filed a putative class action against her employer, Advanced-Tech Security Services, for failure to pay overtime. Advanced-Tech Security Services, Inc. v. Superior Court, 77 Cal.Rptr.3d 757, 759 (Cal.App. 2008). Defendant’s employee handbook explained the company’s policies for overtime and holiday pay, and provided that all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week would be paid at 1½ times normal rate and that all hours worked on any of six specified holidays will be paid at the regular rate for employees who do not work on those holidays and at 1½ times normal rate for employees who do work on those holidays. Id. The named class action plaintiff worked 12 hours on Labor Day (a specified holiday) and 60 hours during the week, for which she was paid 40 hours at straight time and 20 hours at time-and-a-half; however, the class action alleged that “the time and one-half she was paid for working on Labor Day was her regular rate of pay pursuant to the Employee’s Handbook, and she was entitled to be paid one and one-half times the premium rate for the hours she worked on Labor Day.” Id., at 759-60. Similarly, the class action plaintiff worked 8 hours on Memorial Day (a specified holiday) and 8 hours of overtime during that week; the class action alleged she was entitled to receive 23½ hours at straight time, 8 hours of overtime, and 24 hours (triple time) for the 8 hours worked on Memorial Day. Id., at 760. In essence, then, the issue presented by the class action was whether, under California Labor Code section 520(a), an employee is “entitled to time and one-half of the premium holiday pay as overtime if the employee works more than 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week.” Id., at 759. The trial court denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment on this issue, but the Court of Appeal granted interlocutory review and reversed.

Defense attorneys moved for summary judgment on the “failure to pay overtime” cause of action in the class action complaint on the ground that plaintiff “would never be able to prove that she was not paid one and one-half times her regular rate of pay for the days she worked in excess of 8 hours per day and/or in excess of 40 hours in one week.” Advanced-Tech, at 760. Plaintiff countered that she was entitled to triple time for holiday hours that were also overtime hours, id. The trial court denied the motion for summary judgment because it believed defendant had not “address[ed] the issue of the propriety of its practice of crediting a contractual holiday premium payment toward overtime pay for work in excess of 40 hours in the same week.” Id., at 761. Reviewing that holding de novo, id., the appellate court reversed. The appellate court summarized its holding at page 759 as follows: “We hold that the plain language of section 510 does not require an employer to compensate an employee at a rate higher than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay under the circumstances presented here. The employer is entitled to credit the time and one-half premium pay on holidays against otherwise earned overtime.” Accordingly, it reversed the trial court order and directed the lower court to grant defendant’s motion for summary judgment as to the “failure to pay overtime” cause of action, see id., at 765. The court’s analysis may be found at pages 761-65.

Download PDF file of Advanced-Tech Security Services v. Superior Court