Former Safelite Tech Wins Appeal to Argue for Class Certification in Overtime Case

A panel of Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ judges has vacated a ruling by the lower court that denied class certification status for a former Safelite technician who sued Safelite alleging he had been denied overtime wages.

In his lawsuit filed against Safelite in 2010, Joseph Perez, a California resident, alleges that he and other associates in the state had been denied overtime wages he believes they were owed for working more than eight hours per day and 40 hours per week. He further alleges that the company had a consistent policy of requiring associates within the state of California “to work at least five hours without an uninterrupted meal period and failing to pay such employees one hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each workday that the meal period is not provided or provided after five hours.”

He appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court after his request for class certification was denied in a California federal district court

In their ruling, the judges wrote, “The district court abused its discretion when it failed to grant Perez’s requests for precertification discovery. … The district court denied class certification because Perez did not have evidence about other employees with his job title, which shows that discovery is necessary to determine the existence of a class in this case. Perez is therefore entitled to precertification discovery on remand.”

The matter has been sent back to the lower courts.

“We vacate the denial of class certification and remand for further proceedings,” the panel of judges wrote.

“Perez, wishing to engage in discovery prior to class certification, stipulated with Safelite to extend the class certification deadline,” according to court papers. “The district court denied the stipulation without reasoning. Perez then moved to continue the class certification deadline in order to engage in precertification discovery. The district court denied the motion without reasoning.

“Perez then filed a timely motion to certify the class, and again stated that precertification discovery was appropriate,” the panel continued. “The district court denied the class certification motion because there was insufficient evidence to establish the job duties performed by class members other than Perez. The district court did not address the need for precertification discovery.”

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