Ward v. United Airlines, Inc.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA CHARLES E. WARD et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. UNITED AIRLINES, INC., Defendant and Respondent. S248702 Ninth Circuit 16-16415 Northern District of California 3:15-cv-02309-WHA FELICIA VIDRIO et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. UNITED AIRLINES, INC., Defendant and Respondent. Ninth Circuit 17-55471 Central District of California 2:15-cv-07985-PSG-MRW June 29, 2020 This opinion precedes companion case S248726, also filed on June 29, 2020. Justice Kruger authored the opinion of the Court, in which Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and Justices Chin, Corrigan, Liu, Cuéllar, and Groban concurred. WARD v. UNITED AIRLINES, INC. S248702 Opinion of the Court by Kruger, J. From the air, the borders that divide state from state disappear. But in our federalist system, those borders still matter—even for those who make their living flying the friendly skies. In these consolidated cases and Oman v. Delta Air Lines, Inc. (June 29, 2020, S248726) ___ Cal.5th ___, we confront questions about how the laws of a single state might apply to employees who perform duties across the country, on behalf of an employer in the business of connecting the world. Plaintiffs are pilots and flight attendants for a global airline based outside California. Plaintiffs reside in California but perform most of their work in airspace outside California’s jurisdiction. They are not paid according to California wage law, but instead according to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement entered under federal law. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has asked us to decide whether, given these circumstances, the airline is required to provide plaintiffs with wage statements that meet the various requirements of California law. We conclude that whether plaintiffs are entitled to California-compliant wage statements depends on whether their principal place of work is in California. For pilots, flight attendants, and other interstate transportation workers who do not perform a majority of their work in any one state, this test is satisfied when California serves as their base of work WARD v. UNITED AIRLINES, INC. Opinion of the Court by Kruger, J. operations, regardless of their place of residence or whether a collective bargaining agreement governs their pay. I. The consolidated cases before us arise from three class actions filed against defendant United Airlines, Inc. United is an air carrier that provides service between airports across the country and around the world, including to and from numerous airports in California. United is incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Illinois, with a substantial administrative presence in Texas. Plaintiff Charles Ward is a pilot for United, while plaintiffs Felicia Vidrio and Paul Bradley are flight attendants. All three are California residents. (Ward v. United Airlines, Inc. (9th Cir. 2018) 889 F.3d 1068, 1071.) Ward filed an action in state court on behalf of pilots, while Vidrio and Bradley each filed separate state court actions on behalf of flight attendants. All three flight crew members alleged that United’s wage statements fail to provide them all the information required by Labor Code section 226 (section 226), ...

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