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Edwards v. All-Dry, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

June 13, 2018

RICHARD EDWARDS, individually and on behalf of all similarly-situated persons, Plaintiff,
v.
ALL-DRY, INC., and ALAN CHANDLER and NICK CHANDLER, individually, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          WILLIAM L. CAMPBELL JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         Pending before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion For Conditional Certification, Approval of 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) Notice And Consent Forms, And To Order Disclosure Of Contact Information For Current And Former Employees (Doc. No. 13); Defendants' Response To Plaintiff's Motion (Doc. No. 17); and Plaintiff's Reply (Doc. No. 19).

         For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion For Conditional Certification, Approval of 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) Notice And Consent Forms, And To Order Disclosure Of Contact Information For Current And Former Employees (Doc. No. 13) is GRANTED in part, and DENIED in part. The Magistrate Judge shall set appropriate deadlines for the issuance of court-supervised notice in accordance with this Memorandum and accompanying Order.

         II. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff Richard Edwards, a former employee of Defendants All-Dry, Inc., Alan Chandler, and Nick Chandler, has brought this action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq. (“FLSA”) individually and in a representative capacity as a collective action on behalf of others “similarly situated” under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff alleges Defendants required and/or permitted non-exempt employees to routinely work more than 40 hours per week without payment of overtime compensation during the three years prior to the date the Complaint was filed. (Id.)

         Through the pending motion, Plaintiff requests the Court issue an order: (1) allowing this case to proceed as a collective action under Section 216(b) on behalf of employees of Defendants who worked as hourly-paid crew members or installers (or those who performed similar duties, however titled) from September 27, 2014 through the present; (2) requiring Defendants to immediately provide a list of names, last known addresses, last known telephone numbers, and email addresses for all putative class members; (3) approving the proposed Notice and Consent forms filed as exhibits to the Motion; and (4) ordering the proposed Notice be prominently posted at Defendants' office location, attached to current employees' next scheduled paycheck, and mailed and emailed to putative class members. (Doc. No. 13). To support the Motion, Plaintiff has filed the declarations of Michael Glaser and Trevor West, both of whom were employed with Defendants during the relevant time period. (Doc. Nos. 14-3, 14-4).

         III. Analysis

         A. Conditional Certification

         The FLSA provides a collective action may be maintained against any employer by one or more employees for and on behalf of themselves and other employees similarly situated. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Unlike class actions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, FLSA collective actions require similarly-situated employees to “opt-in” as party plaintiffs. Id.

         The Sixth Circuit has recognized a two-step process that is used by most district courts to determine whether plaintiffs are similarly situated. See, e.g., Monroe v. FTS USA, LLC, 860 F.3d 389, 397 (6th Cir. 2017) (citing Comer v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 454 F.3d 544, 546-47 (6th Cir. 2006)). For the first stage, which occurs at the beginning of discovery, courts use a “fairly lenient standard” that “typically results in conditional certification of a representative class.” White v. Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp., 699 F.3d 869, 877 (6th Cir. 2012) (citing Comer, 454 F.3d at 547)). A plaintiff need only show her position is similar, not identical, to the positions of the putative class members. Comer, 454 F.3d at 546-47. The court does not resolve factual disputes, decide substantive issues, or make credibility determinations. Bradford v. Logan's Roadhouse, Inc., 137 F.Supp.3d 1064, 1072 (M.D. Tenn. 2015). If the court determines conditional certification is warranted, it may authorize the notification of similarly-situated employees to allow them to opt into the lawsuit. Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc. v. Sperling, 493 U.S. 165, 167-68, 110 S.Ct. 482, 107 L.Ed.2d 480 (1989); Monroe, 860 F.3d at 397.

         At the second stage, the court reviews the evidence produced during discovery and determines whether the class should be decertified. Monroe, 860 F.3d at 397. Although the court applies a “stricter standard” at the second stage, the FLSA plaintiff faces a lower certification burden than a plaintiff seeking certification under Rule 23. 860 F.3d at 397-98. In determining whether the plaintiffs are similarly situated, the court may consider whether the employees “suffer from a single, FLSA-violating policy” or whether their claims are “unified by common theories of defendants' statutory violations, even if the proofs of these theories are inevitably individualized and distinct.” Id. at 398 (citing O'Brien v. Ed Donnelly Enterprises, Inc., 575 F.3d 567, 584-85 (6th Cir. 2009)).

         In their Response, Defendants state they do not oppose Plaintiff's request for conditional certification. Defendants do object, however, to the description of the collective action to include the parenthetical phrase “(or those who performed similar duties, however titled).” Defendants argue the phrase is vague. The Court is persuaded the parenthetical description is not vague, however, because it is limited by reference to “hourly-paid crew members or installers.” Defendants are free, at an appropriate time, to challenge whether particular employees who have opted in are properly members of the collective action. Thus, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for conditional certification of a class consisting of employees of Defendants who worked as hourly-paid crew members or installers (or those who performed similar duties, however titled) from September 27, 2014 through the date the Complaint was filed.

         B. Discovery and ...


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