Cases & Deals

McDonald's victorious at trial against state-wide California class action wage and hour PAGA claims

Clients McDonald's Corporation

Jones Day prevailed in gutting the remaining part of a state-wide class and representative action under the California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act filed against McDonald’s Corporation.

The plaintiffs filed a putative class action against McDonald’s on behalf of crew members employed in corporate owned stores in California in January 2013, alleging 12 sweeping causes of action for violations of the California Labor Code, PAGA, and unfair competition law. Jones Day took over from another law firm in 2015. Despite the plaintiffs’ two opportunities to move for class certification, including multiple new theories with their second certification motion, McDonald’s defeated nearly all of the plaintiffs' two motions, successfully whittling the case down to a single daily overtime claim and derivative claims on behalf of a subclass of employees who worked certain overnight shifts followed by daytime shifts. McDonald’s followed up with a successful motion to strike the plaintiffs’ PAGA claims based on manageability grounds. The court then dismissed the plaintiffs’ PAGA claims except to the extent they were derivative of the certified claim.

Following the court’s finding that McDonald’s method for calculating daily overtime for the approximately 10,000 class members violated California law, the plaintiffs sought more than $100 million in damages and penalties and the parties proceeded to trial in May 2017 to determine damages. The trial involved many complex and novel questions of law involving interpretations under often uncharted territory.

Following a two week bench trial, the court issued a decision in McDonald’s favor on every issue left to be resolved at the class trial and awarded the 10,000 employees less than $775,000 in total damages and penalties for the eight year period.

Sanchez v. McDonald’s Restaurants of California, Inc., Case No. BC499888 (Super Ct. Los Angeles Cty., Cal.)

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