The UCL Practitioner
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
New UCL preemption case
My hotel has an excellent business center, which allows me to report on a new case decided today, Prachasaisoradej v. Ralphs Grocery Co., ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (Sept. 8, 2004). The Court of Appeal held that neither the LMRA nor the NLRA preempted plaintiff's Labor Code and UCL claims because those claims "involve[d] independent rights that neither derive from nor require interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement." Plaintiff, a produce manager at Ralphs, alleged that his employer deducted certain expenses from his bonus checks in violation of the Labor Code. His UCL "unlawful" prong claim was also predicated on those alleged violations. While the collective bargaining agreement addressed bonus payments generally, it did not mention the specific conduct that Ralphs allegedly engaged in. Hence, the Court of Appeal held, the Labor Code and UCL claims were not preempted and the trial court improperly sustained Ralphs' demurrer. The Court of Appeal also reversed an extremely onerous-sounding attorneys fees award of $275,000.
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