Because of the importance to international practice generally of class or collective actions, on which we have posted with some frequency from time to time, we report on the decision in Provine, et al. v. Office Depot, Inc.,  No. C 11-00903 SI (N.D. Cal. 2012). 

Office Depot offered a program to its employees known as the Bravo Award Program.  The Program allegedly rewards employees for superior work performance.  The named plaintiff received $50 in awards twice and complained that the Company should have factored in the amounts received in its calculation of “regular rate of pay” for purposes of computing overtime.  Office Depot disagreed.  Class certification was sought on claims relating alleged failure to pay overtime wages, failure to provide accurate wage statements, and related state law claims. 

The decision first denied summary judgment.  It then granted class certification.  Summarizing its decision, the Court stated:

Here, all of these factors lead the Court to conclude that a class action is superior to any other method of adjudication in this case. All of the prospective class claims revolve around a question of law common to all prospective class members – whether defendant should have included Bravo Awards in class member’s regular rate of pay when computing overtime pay. The Court is not aware of any prospective class member’s individual interest in controlling prosecution of separate actions, or of anylitigation concerning the issues at hand other than this case. Finally, managing this case as a class action will be far easier than addressing all of the prospective class member’s claims individually. Each prospective class member would allege the same set of common facts to answer the same question of law. Class adjudication of this question of law is markedly more efficient than addressing it individually for each class member. See Lerwill v. Inflight Motion Pictures, Inc., 582 F.2d 507, 512 (9th Cir. 1978).

Does this case stand in contrast to other recent decisions that we have posted on in that the question presented is essenially a question of law, easily definable and suseptible to adjudication on a class-wide basis?  Does the answer to that question change once it is considered that the Court denied summary because of disputed issues of fact?