Cases & Deals

IBM wins preemptive motion to deny class certification of California wage claims

Client(s) International Business Machines Corporation

On behalf of International Business Machines Corporation, Jones Day preemptively defeated class certification of California-law wage claims.

Plaintiff brought various wages claims on behalf of a putative class of IBM IT workers in California. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that he and other California IT workers were misclassified as exempt from overtime pay requirements. He also claimed that he and the putative class did not receive accurate itemized wage statements and were not indemnified for certain business expenses.

IBM preemptively moved to deny class certification of Plaintiff's claims – and the court granted the motion in its entirety. As to the overtime claims, the court found that IBM demonstrated that "Plaintiff cannot meet the predominance and superiority requirements under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) because Plaintiff’s challenge to his exemption status implicates individualized issues that preclude class treatment." As to the wage statement claim, the court likewise found that Plaintiff's "exempt and nonexempt wage statement claims fail to pass muster under Rule 23" because harm is a required element of the claim and the determination of whether an employee was harmed is an inherently individualized inquiry. And, as to the indemnification claim, the court agreed with Jones Day that "Plaintiff is not entitled to certification . . . because the indemnification class is not objective and because this claim fails Rules 23(a) and 23(b)." Specifically, IBM argued that class certification would be improper because of individualized inquiries resulting from the fact that business expenses, and the need to incur certain expenses, varied widely from person to person.

Silva v. International Business Machines Corp., Case No. SACV10-01282 CJC (JCGx) (C.D. Cal. Oct. 19, 2011)