Judge Edward Webster said that, since the employees’ individual circumstances were not sufficiently similar, trying the case as a class action would result in an undeserved windfall for whichever party won, Thompson.com reports. Webster said the employees had taken what he termed an “all or nothing” approach, asking the court to decide the fate of the group as a whole based on a “representative sampling” of its members.
Under their approach, if more than 50% of them spent more than 50% of their time engaged in nonexempt duties – such as manning cash registers, stocking shelves or fielding customers’ inquiries – they would all qualify for damages, according to Thompson.com.
In his opinion, Webster pointed out that, “Theoretically, this would result in a potential windfall to 49.9% of [the employees], or a deprivation to 49.9% of [the employees] deserving overtime pay.”
The employees had claimed they were unlawfully denied overtime pay as exempt executives under California law, and stood to recover at least $25,000 plus interest for each year they worked plus penalties and attorney’s fees.