Does Wal-Mart v. Dukes Impact California Wage and Hour Claims -- U.S. Supreme Court Vacates Certification Order in Chinese Daily News v. Wang

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday vacated the Ninth Circuit decision in Chinese Daily News v. Wang, which had upheld class certification of various California Labor Code claims.  The Supreme Court makes no substantive analysis of the opinion but merely directed that it be remanded back to the Ninth Circuit "for further consideration in light of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes."  

Some may see this as a vindication of the view that Dukes is a "game changer" for certification of wage and hour claims.  But I tend to disagree. 

The unusual aspect of the Chinese Daily News decision was that it had based certification of the plaintiffs' monetary wage claims under both Rule 23(b)(2) (applicable to equitable claims) and Rule 23(b)(3) (applicable to damage claims).  Dukes however rejected the use of Rule 23(b)(2) for certifying monetary claims.   So it is understandable that the case was vacated and remanded. 

The vast majority of wage claims, however, are certified exclusively under Rule 23(b)(3).  And Dukes did not change the standard applicable to that prong of the rule.   Consequently, I predict that the Ninth Circuit will merely decide on remand that certification in the Chinese Daily News case was independently proper under Rule 23(b)(3). 

For example, in the recent Second Circuit opinion of Shahriar v. Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, the Court upheld class certification of wage claims under Rule 23(b)(3) without finding the need to even mention Dukes. 

In short, at this point there is really no reason to believe that Dukes will have any significant impact on class certification of California wage and hour claims.  

  

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