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A federal judge has denied certification of a class of workers at assisted-living facilities in California who claim they were denied meal and rest periods. However, he certified workers who are suing for other unpaid wage claims.
The class action was filed behalf of nearly 12,000 current and former hourly employees of Sunrise Senior Living Management Inc., a subsidiary of Sunrise Senior Living LLC, based in McLean, Va., which operates 40 facilities in California. Plaintiffs attorneys had sought to certify nine subclasses of employees who worked at Sunrise since Feb. 25, 2009.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt of the Central District of California, finding that individual circumstances would predominate or citing Sunrise’s company policies, denied certification to six of those subclasses, including workers suing for meal and rest periods and those seeking wages they claimed to be owed when Sunrise rounded the time they worked to the nearest quarter hour. He also denied a class of employees seeking pay for time spent working off the clock, usually during meetings between shifts.
But Kronstadt certified a class of workers challenging Sunrise’s calculation of bonuses in their overtime pay and those seeking unpaid wages for time that the company rounded off before and after meal periods.
Jason Schwartz, a partner in the Washington office of Los Angeles-based Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who represents Sunrise, said the ruling overall was a win for Sunrise because Kronstadt rejected the “big ticket” items.
“The six he rejected were the significant ones—the meal breaks, rest breaks, off-the-clock and a number of different variations off of those,” he said. As for those he certified, he said, “we’re very confident we’ll prevail on a class-wide basis on the merits because these people were paid properly.”
Plaintiffs’ lawyer Aubry Wand of the Matern Law Group in Manhattan Beach, Calif., disagreed that the ruling was a win for the defense. “We got three of the subclasses certified, so we’re happy with the decision,” he said.
Both sides said they planned to negotiate a potential settlement following the ruling, according to court papers.
In 2012, Kronstadt denied certification in a similar class action against Sunrise. That case later settled.
Contact Amanda Bronstad at email@example.com.