Ayala v. Antelope Valley Newspapers, Inc.Annotate this Case
Defendant published a daily newspaper and contracted with individual carriers to deliver the paper. Named plaintiffs were four newspaper carriers for Defendant. Plaintiffs sued on behalf of a putative class of carriers, alleging that Defendant wrongly treated its carriers as independent contractors when they were employees as a matter of law. The trial court denied class certification, concluding that alleged individual variations in how carriers performed their work presented unmanageable individual issues that precluded certification. The court of appeals reversed in part, concluding that proof of employee status would not necessarily entail a host of individual inquiries. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) whether a common law employer-employee relationship exists turns principally on the degree of a hirer’s right to control how the end result is achieved; (2) whether the hirer’s right to control can be shown on a classwide basis will depend on the extent to which individual variations in the hirer’s rights concerning each putative class member exist, and whether such variations, if any, are manageable; and (3) the trial court in this case erred in rejecting certification based not on differences in Defendant’s right to exercise control but on variations in how that right was exercised.