News & Commentary

November 2, 2022

Jason Vazquez

Jason Vazquez is a student at Harvard Law School.

In wage and hour litigation news, the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday reversed the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to grant judgment as a matter of law to Target Corporation in a class action brought by the company’s employees challenging the company’s method of calculating overtime pay for certain workers. The complaint was originally filed in California state court in December 2015 and the plaintiffs, a class including all former and current Target employees in the state of California within the prior four years, contend that the retail giant violated the overtime provisions of the California Labor Code in two ways. The company removed the case to federal court in 2016 and on Tuesday, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court’s denial of Target’s motion for judgment on the pleadings and succinctly dismissed the plaintiffs’ legal theories, concluding that “[u]ltimately, Plaintiffs’ complaint is that Target should have adopted a payment methodology that maximized their overtime pay. But California law does not require that outcome, and Target has complied with California’s overtime requirement.” The case is Bowen et al v. Target Corp., and the Ninth Circuit’s decision can be accessed here.

Labor relations agitation continues at the nation’s largest coffee chain, as just yesterday NLRB Region 03 filed a sweeping complaint against Starbucks Corporation, adding to the company’s already substantial stockpile of more than 20 existing Board complaints. The latest complaint, which consolidates several cases based upon charges filed by Starbucks Workers United (SWU), contends that the coffee giant committed various ULPs across the company’s New York locations, including surveilling employee activities, granting benefits and threatening loss of benefits, and retaliating against union activity by, inter alia, reducing employee hours, discharging employees, and closing stores, including an Ithaca location that Starbucks permanently shuttered over the summer after SWU prevailed in a representation election and the employees subsequently launched a strike, the first to be closed following a union victory. The complaint further alleges that the company unlawfully refused to bargain with SWU at two stores for which the union had been certified as the employees’ exclusive representative. With respect to remedies, the complaint seeks an order requiring Starbucks to restore the operation of the shuttered stores and to make the affected employees whole for all temporary closures, along with reinstatement and backpay for several discriminatees. 

Voting commences today in a representation election at a Home Depot location in Philadelphia, where employees will decide whether to form the home improvement giant’s first unionized store. The election petition was filed in September, and the potential bargaining unit includes around 260 employees—organizers claim to have secured more than 100 signed authorization cards. The workers are seeking to join Home Depot Workers United, representing the latest in the recent surge of independent unionization campaigns. Election results are expected to be released on Saturday.

Trader Joe’s is set to begin negotiating a collective bargaining agreement later this week with Trader Joe’s United, to govern employees at the store in Hadley, Massachusetts, the first of the company’s locations to unionize, as well as another location in Minneapolis, which voted to unionize two weeks later. A representative of the union expressed excitement at the prospect of sitting down at the bargaining table, but it remains to be seen whether the company is genuinely interested in making a good-faith effort to secure an agreement.

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