Universal Protection Service v. Super. Ct.Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs Michael Parnow, Shawn Lisenby, Bob Andrade, Gabriel Bautista, and Saiyaz Abdul filed a class action against Universal Protection Service, LP and Universal Services of America, Inc. (collectively, UPS). Plaintiffs worked as armed security guards at the Yolo County Superior Court, under the employ of UPS. As part of their job, they have to provide equipment, such as guns, handcuffs, and radios, and have to pay the costs to maintain their certification to work as armed guards, but they are not reimbursed for equipment or training costs. When they filed an administrative complaint, they were all fired except plaintiff Lisenby, and none were paid their wages. The trial court granted a stipulated stay, pending the outcome of a then-pending case in the California Supreme Court. After the Supreme Court issued its decision, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint as a “representative action” under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) and also petitioned to compel class-wide arbitration. The agreement listed a number of disputes that were covered, including “any state or local statutes and ordinances relating to wage and hour or wage payment matters.” It excluded employees covered by collective bargaining agreements, and disputes involving workers compensation and unemployment insurance. UPS answered with a general denial, coupled with various affirmative defenses, including that the class action claims were barred by the arbitration agreement. UPS also filed a cross-complaint seeking a declaration that: (1) the trial court, not the arbitrator, should decide whether class action relief was barred by the arbitration agreement; and (2) that the arbitration agreement barred class actions. After plaintiffs answered the cross-complaint, UPS moved to compel individual arbitration and stay the proceedings. Plaintiffs opposed the motion, in part arguing that under American Arbitration Association (AAA) Rules, whether class arbitrations were permitted was a matter for the arbitrator to decide. Plaintiffs obtained judicial notice of the AAA Rules. The trial court denied the motion to compel individual arbitration, and stayed the suit pending the arbitration. UPS petitioned for a writ of mandate, seeking to set aside the order compelling it to submit to arbitration. Upon review, the Court of Appeal concluded that the agreements’ incorporation by reference of the AAA Rules vested the arbitrator with the power to decide the disputed issue. The alternative writ was discharged, the stay (issued previously) was vacated, and the petition for mandate was denied.