Friday, September 23, 2016

employment - employee v. indpt. contractor - class certified - common evidence - franchise agreement

Williams et al. v. Jani-King of Philadelphia – 3d Cir. – September 21, 2016

Disputes about whether workers are properly classified as employees or independent contractors are a classic and reoccurring issue in American law. This case presents such a dispute. Jani-King, the world’s largest commercial cleaning franchisor, classifies its franchisees as independent contractors.

Two Jani-King franchisees, Darryl Williams and Howard Brooks, assert that they are misclassified and should be treated as employees. On behalf of a class of Jani-King franchisees in the Philadelphia area, Brooks and Williams seek unpaid wages under the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPCL), 43 Pa. Stat. §§ 260.1–260.12.

The District Court granted the Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. In this interlocutory appeal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f), we consider whether the misclassification claim can be made on a class-wide basis through common evidence, primarily the franchise agreement and manuals.

We hold that the claims in this case are susceptible to class-wide determination and that the District Court did not abuse its discretion by certifying the class.

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