Jury Agrees with Benihana over Employee Classification
A federal jury in California has reportedly determined that Benihana properly classified three restaurant managers as exempt thus concluding wage-related litigation against the chain. Originally filed as a putative class action in state court, the case initially included claims about overtime wages, accrued vacation pay, rest and meal breaks, and itemized wage statements. By the time the case was tried after removal to federal court, it involved just three named plaintiffs and the overtime dispute. According to a news source, the company nearly derailed the case by alleging that one of the employees had copied and destroyed thousands of files from a computer at the company’s Cupertino, California, location. The court levied sanctions against the employee and dismissed him from the case, but then determined that the conduct, alleged to be “wrongful self-help discovery” and the deletion of stolen copies, may not have been “beyond the pale” because some evidence indicated that the employee was supposed to copy files as part of his job. See Law360, October 22, 2012.