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An Atria Senior Living spokesman said the Louisville, KY-based company will “vigorously defend” itself after a federal court ruled that a group of community sales directors in California can proceed as a certified class on wage-and-hour claims.

The claims center on allegations that Atria misclassified the sales directors as outside salespeople, exempting them from overtime pay as well as from meal and rest breaks. 

A spokesman for Atria told McKnight’s Senior Living that the court’s decision was a “preliminary determination that reduced the size of the class, but did not decide on the merits of the case itself.” 

“We believe we followed California law with our sales job classification and will vigorously defend our position,” the spokesman said. “Given that this litigation is ongoing, we have no further comment.”

George Stickles and Michele Rhodes filed the labor lawsuit against Atria Senior Living and Atria Management Co. on Dec. 18, 2020. The sales directors sought to certify a class of former and current employees in the same position who did not sign arbitration agreements and whose employment was between Dec. 18, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2019. 

U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California certified the class on Dec. 27, 2021, but narrowed the timeframe to Sept. 29, 2019, dropping the number of potential members in the class from more than 100 to around 50. Alsup ruled that the classification issue can be resolved by examining common evidence about the employees’ job duties and employment conditions. The evidence includes Atria’s company policies, job descriptions and employee depositions, according to Bloomberg Law.

Atria owns 46 senior living and assisted living communities in California.