Trelles v. Academy of Art University, et. al

Case No.: CGC-11-509952

Superior Court, County of San Francisco

Attorneys: Jessica Riggin, Valerie Brender

We have filed a class action lawsuit against the Academy of Art University on behalf of Part-Time Instructors (PTIs) who teach on-site and online courses for AAU.  The Complaint alleges that AAU compensates PTIs on an hourly basis but fails to pay PTIs for all hours worked, in violation of California law. For example, on-site instructors are only paid for their in-class teaching time but are not paid for any time spent on tasks outside of their in-class teaching time, including grading assignments, corresponding with students, or preparing for class.  Plaintiff similarly alleges that online instructors are similarly not compensated for all hours worked. Accordingly, Plaintiff asserts claims for breach of contract, unpaid minimum wages, waiting time penalties, wage statement penalties, unreimbursed expenses, and unlawful business practices, as well as Private Attorneys General Act claims.

See the complaint here.

Case updates

Court Grants Final Approval of Class Action Settlement: On September 18, 2017, the trial court granted Plaintiff’s Motion for an Order Granting Final Approval of Class Action Settlement.

Trial Court Denies AAU’s Motion to Compel Arbitration: On May 31, 2013, the trial court denied AAU’s motion to compel arbitration on the ground that AAU had failed to show that an arbitration agreement existed because, by its own terms, the arbitration agreement required the signature of AAU’s president, which was lacking on each of Plaintiff’s employment agreements.

Court of Appeal Upholds Trial Court’s Denial of Motion to Compel Arbitration: On June 4, 2013, AAU filed a notice of appeal of the trial court’s order denying its motion to compel arbitration.  After full briefing and oral argument, on November 24, 2014, the Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the trial court’s ruling denying AAU’s motion to compel arbitration.

Court Grants Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Approval: On May 2, 2017, the trial court granted Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary approval of class action settlement. The court defines the class, for settlement purposes only, as:  “all Part-Time Instructors who taught at least one live (in-person) or online class for Academy of Art University (AAU) at any time between April 6, 2007, through February 5, 2017.” The Court set the final approval hearing date for September 18, 2017.