Monday, January 2, 2012

California Supreme Court Rejects Finding That Insurance Claims Adjusters Are Non-Exempt As Matter of Law: Harris v. Superior Court

On December 29, 2011, the California Supreme Court overturned a court of appeal opinion finding that insurance claims adjusters are categorically “non-exempt” employees in Harris v. Superior Court, __ Cal.4th __ (2011).  The Supreme Court found that the court of appeal’s conclusion that work “not carried on at the level of policy or general operations” is not administrative, thereby falling outside of Wage Order 4’s administrative exemption as a matter of law, failed to consider the facts under all relevant components of FLSA regulations incorporated by reference in 8 CCR 11040(2)(a)(f).  As explained by the Court “[t]he essence of our holding is that, in resolving whether work qualifies as administrative, courts must consider the particular facts before them and apply the language of the statutes and wage orders at issue.”  Slip Opinion, at 22.  The judgment of the court of appeal – which had reversed the trial court’s denial of a plaintiff-filed MSJ – was reversed with instructions to apply the correct legal standard.  The Court expressed no opinions on the propriety of certification, declining the defendant’s request to decertify the class.  Id., at fn. 9.

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