Last month, we mentioned three interesting cases with petitions for review pending before the California Supreme Court. One petition for review (JKH Enterprises Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations (2006) 142 Cal.App.4th 1046) was denied in December.
On Wednesday, review was denied in Aguiar v. Cintas Corp. No. 2 (2006) 144 Cal.App.4th 121 (reversing and remanding a Los Angeles County Superior Court order denying class certification of a claim for violations of the Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance).
In the same order, the Supreme Court denied review of the unpublished opinion in Marx v. Storage Technology Company, 2006 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 10200. In Marx, defendant and appellant Storage Technology Corporation (STK) appealed from a judgment entered against it and in favor of its former employee Ted Marx. STK contended that the trial court erred in denying its motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) on the two causes of action that proceeded to trial: (1) failure to pay wages due, and (2) wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Alternatively, it sought a new trial on the grounds that the trial court erroneously instructed the jury that all Marx was required to establish on his wrongful termination claim was that STK's alleged retaliation against him was "a motivating reason" for his dismissal.
The Court of Appeal agreed that Marx failed to establish a claim for failure to pay wages due. Pursuant to the terms of Marx's compensation agreement with STK, no commissions were due Marx. Likewise, Marx failed to establish his claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. No public policy is at issue. Because Marx had no valid claim for wages due, his demands to STK for payment of those monies cannot support a public policy claim. Similarly, because the complaint he filed with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) was baseless, he cannot substantiate his retaliation theory upon that purported public policy as well. Thus, the order denying STK's motion for JNOV was reversed, and the matter was remanded to the trial court with directions to issue a new order granting STK's motion for JNOV and entering judgment in favor of STK. You can download Marx v. Storage Technology Corporation here in pdf or Word format.
Finally, there is still no word from the Supreme Court on Alvarez v. May Department Stores Co.. (2006) 143 Cal.App.4th 1223 (upholding demurrer to a wage and hour class action on the basis of collateral estoppel arising out a previous denial of class a certification motion in another matter). A petition for review has been filed, along with a request for depublication. In a bold move, the employer chose not to file an answer to the petition for review. We would not have been so bold. If you are curious, the UCL Practitioner has a link to download a copy of the petition for review. On January 11, 2007, the Supreme Court granted itself an extension of time to grant or deny review, through February 16, 2007. No decision will be made next week, as the Supreme Court does not have its weekly meetings if there are arguments scheduled.