Security Staffing Firm Can't Unravel Class Suit
(CN) - A private security guard company cannot decertify a class of current and former employees accusing it of violating California labor law, the 9th Circuit ruled Friday.
U.S. Security Associates provides guards at more than 700 locations in California, including hotels, hospitals, warehouses and construction sites, according to the ruling.
In a federal complaint, former USSA employee Muhammed Abdullah accused the firm of violating California labor law by forcing guards to work through their meal breaks, among other issues.
A federal judge in Los Angeles ultimately certified the class and seven subclasses. USSA appealed the certification of a meal-break subclass, but the 9th Circuit shot it down Friday.
"Here, the District Court concluded that 'a common legal question that is presented and susceptible to class-wide determination' is whether California's 'nature of the work' exception to Industrial Welfare Commission ('IWC') wage order No. 4-2001 - which governs meal periods - 'applies to [USSA]'s single guard post staffing model,'" Judge Richard Paez wrote for a three-judge panel. " USSA counters that this question will not generate a common answer, because USSA's 'nature of the work' defense requires 'an individualized, fact-specific analysis' of each employee's work history, including 'a day-by-day examination of an employee's job duties.'"
Ultimately class certification is proper because the allegations - and USSA's affirmative defenses to them - "can yield a common answer that is 'apt to drive the resolution of the litigation," according to the 30-page decision.