This morning, the California Supreme Court denied a petition to publish the opinion in Martinez v. WIld Oats Markets, Inc., which upheld a trial verdict finding that store manager was misclassified as exempt, under the executive exemption, when she worked more than 50% of her time on nonexempt tasks. The employer claimed that this did not comport with their "realistic expectations" of her job duties, and that her work on the nonexempt tasks came after "concrete expressions of displeasure" by her superiors.
While the primary issue in this case was whether Wild Oats had properly classified Martinez as exempt, by closing arguments the defense had conceded that Martinez did not spend the majority of her time on managerial or executive duties. However, Wild Oats argued it did not intend Martinez to spend her time on nonexempt activities, and that she did illustrated her incompetence and poor job performance. The parties therefore agreed that Ramirez was on point. Ramirez analyzed the outside sales exemption to overtime requirements, and addressed whether a court should determine the applicability of the exemption based on how the employee should be spending his or her working hours, or on what the employee actually does on a daily basis. The court noted that if trial courts were to rely solely on the employer's job description, “the employer could make an employee exempt from overtime laws solely by fashioning an idealized job description that had little basis in reality.” [citing Ramirez v. Yosemite Water Co. (1999) 20 Cal.4th 785].
The primary focus of the opinion centered around whether the judgment was supported by sufficent evidence. The Court of Appeal concluded that it was. The trial judge was Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ronald Sohegian. The appellate court's link to the opinion (http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/nonpub/B195749.DOC) no longer works.
MARTINEZ v. WILD OATS MARKETS, INC. Case: S168412, Supreme Court of California: 2009-01-14 Event Description: Publication request denied (case closed) Notes: George, C.J., was absent and did not participate. Not Reported in Cal.Rptr.3d, 2008 WL 4572161, Nonpublished/Noncitable (Cal. Rules of Court, Rules 8.1105 and 8.1110, 8.1115), Cal.App. 2 Dist., October 15, 2008 (NO. B195749)