Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Langston v. U.S. Security Associates Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

August 30, 2019

PAUL LANGSTON, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
U.S. SECURITY ASSOCIATES, INC. Defendant.

          ORDER

          PATRICK R. WYRICK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The question before the Court is whether it should conditionally certify this action as a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) collective action pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) and authorize notice to be issued to potential class members. Plaintiff contends that conditional certification is warranted because he has made “substantial allegations” that the potential class members were collectively the victims of Defendant's single decision, policy, or plan.[1] Defendant disagrees, arguing that these allegations are not enough to permit conditional certification because they do not demonstrate that the potential class is “similarly situated” as required by § 216(b).[2] As the Court agrees with Plaintiff that conditional certification is appropriate, the Plaintiff's Motion for Conditional Certification and Court-Authorized Notice (Dkt. 31) is granted and the Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File a First Amended Complaint (Dkt. 51) is granted in part and denied in part.

         Background

          Plaintiff brings this action alleging that his former employer, Defendant, failed to pay him and other hourly, FLSA non-exempt security workers overtime pay as required by the FLSA. He alleges that security workers employed by Defendant were required to show up to their shifts 10-15 minutes prior to start time to perform “pass on, ” or shift-changing, duties but were not paid for this work.[3]

         Conditional Certification Standard

          The FLSA creates a private right of action for “any one or more employees” to bring a claim against their employer to recover unpaid wages and overtime compensation on “behalf of himself or themselves and other employees similarly situated.”[4] The FLSA does not define “similarly situated, ” but the Tenth Circuit has approved a two-step ad hoc approach to determine whether employees fall into this category and an FLSA collective action can be pursued.[5]

         First, the Court must determine “if certification is appropriate for purposes of providing notice to potential members of the collective action.”[6] Although the plaintiff bears the burden to submit “substantial allegations that the putative class members were together the victims of a single decision, policy or plan, ”[7] courts often describe this standard as lenient.[8] Even so, “the initial ad hoc FLSA class certification standard does require plaintiff to provide more than his own speculative allegations, standing alone.”[9] If the allegations in the complaint and any affidavits are sufficient to meet this standard, then conditional certification will be granted.[10]

         Second, once the court conditionally certifies a class, and after the conclusion of discovery, it will then “make[] a second determination, utilizing a stricter standard of ‘similarly situated.'”[11]

         Analysis Conditional Class Certification

          Plaintiff contends that conditional certification is warranted because he has made “substantial allegations” that the potential class members were together the victims of Defendant's single decision, policy, or plan.[12] He explains that “all opt-ins confirm the same uniform illegal practice” of requiring employees to report to work 10-15 minutes prior to their shift, not permitting employees to record this time, and not paying employees for this “pass on” work.[13] Plaintiff continues that employees performed unpaid overtime as a result of this company-wide practice and employees witnessed other employees performing the same unpaid work.[14] In support of his motion, Plaintiff submits affidavits of employees, as well as an exhibit of written discipline he received for not reporting to work early to perform “pass on” duties.[15]

         Defendant disagrees and argues that alleging potential class members were together the victims of Defendant's single decision, policy, or plan is not enough to permit conditional certification because it does not demonstrate that the potential class is “similarly situated.”[16] Plaintiff does not allege that the potential class of security workers performed similar job duties, and Defendant views this absence as fatal to Plaintiff's motion.[17]

         The Court disagrees because the Tenth Circuit is clear that, at this preliminary stage of class certification, all that is required of Plaintiff is “substantial allegations that the putative class members were together the victims of a single decision, policy or plan, ”[18]

         which Plaintiff clearly makes with his allegations and affidavits. At this lenient stage, the alleged dis-similarity of job duties is not enough to defeat conditional certification.

         Defining the Class

          Because conditional certification is appropriate, the Court must define the class. Plaintiff's latest proposal includes two classes: one for supervisors and another for non-supervisors. Defendant objects to this configuration because, “in order for [Plaintiff (a non-supervisor)] to prove his claims, he will have to show that members of the supervisor collective were instrumental in causing his injuries, ”[19] putting him “squarely adverse” to the supervisor collective and “barring Plaintiff's counsel from effectively representing both simultaneously.”[20] Plaintiff sees things differently. He asserts that he “specifically alleged that the Defendant's established company-wide policy deprives supervisors and security guards of pay in the same manner, ” and “[t]here is no allegation that rogue supervisors are cheating security guards out of pay in contravention of established policy.”[21]

         Based on Plaintiff's representations, the Court does not identify a conflict of interest that prohibits the conditional certification of both the supervisor and non-supervisor class at this time. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant has a company-wide policy of not paying employees for “pass-down” time that “deprives supervisors and security guards of pay in the same manner.”[22] While this is presumably enforced as to non-supervisors by supervisors, the allegation remains that the illegal policy originated from the corporate Defendant, not the supervisors. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.