United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southern Division
ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Conditional
Certification and Notification of All Putative Class Members.
(Doc. 18.) The Court finds for purposes of conditional
certification, Plaintiffs have established a colorable basis
for their claim that the putative class members were victims
of a single decision, policy, or plan implemented by
Defendant Craig Hamilton, d/b/a/ Hamilton Painting
(“Hamilton”) resulting in violations of the Fair
Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §
216(b). Upon consideration of the parties' briefing and
exhibits, and for the reasons stated below, the motion (doc.
18) is GRANTED in part.
brought this collective action under the FLSA on behalf of
themselves and “similarly situated” employees of
Hamilton. (Doc. 26.) Plaintiffs allege they, along
with other painters employed by Hamilton, were subject to
Hamilton's compensation policy and practice resulting in
compensation that did not meet the overtime requirements of
the FLSA. (Id.)
move for conditional certification of the collective action.
(Doc. 18.) Plaintiffs request the Court conditionally certify
this matter as a collective action for unpaid wages pursuant
to the FLSA and authorize Plaintiffs to send notice under
FLSA § 216(b) to all current and former painters who
worked for Hamilton within the past three years. (Doc. 18-1.)
Plaintiffs also request the Court appoint their counsel as
interim class counsel. (Doc. 18.)
FLSA requires employers to pay most employees a regular
hourly rate for up to forty (40) hours a week and overtime
compensation at a rate of one and one-half times the regular
rate for hours worked in excess of forty (40). 29 U.S.C.
§§ 206, 207(a)(1). Additionally, it provides a
private right of action to recover damages for violations of
the FLSA's overtime provisions, including unpaid wages,
plus an equal amount in liquidated damages for violations of
§§ 206 and 207. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Such
action may be brought by an employee for himself and on
behalf of “other employees similarly situated.”
Id. In an FLSA collective action, plaintiffs must
“opt-in” to participate. Young v. Cerner
Corp., 503 F.Supp.2d 1226, 1228-29 (W.D. Mo. 2007).
Conditional Certification of the Class
district court may certify a case as a collective action only
if members of the collective are ‘similarly
situated' or raise similar legal issues regarding
coverage, exemption, or nonpayment of wages[.]”
Taylor v. Bear Communs., LLC, No. 4:12-CV-01261-BCW,
2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90352, at *4 (W.D. Mo. June 27, 2013)
(citation omitted). “The plaintiff bears the burden of
establishing he or she is similarly situated to other members
of the proposed class.” Id. (citation
FLSA does not define the term “similarly situated,
” and federal courts have applied varying standards to
determine whether potential opt-in plaintiffs are
“similarly situated” under § 216(b).
Kautsch v. Premier Communs., 504 F.Supp.2d 685, 688
(W.D. Mo. 2007). Although the Eighth Circuit has not
articulated a standard for conditionally certifying FLSA
classes, the majority of the district courts in the Eighth
Circuit use a two-step process. Id. (collecting
cases); see also Taylor, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90352
at *5 (collecting cases).
the two-step process, during the first stage, plaintiffs move
for class certification for the limited purpose of providing
notice to putative class members. Kautsch, 504
F.Supp.2d at 688. During this stage, the “similarly
situated” threshold requires only a “modest
factual showing.” Id. at 690 (citing
Realite v. Ark. Rests. Corp., 7 F.Supp.2d 303, 306
(S.D.N.Y. 1998); Davis v. Novastar Mortg., Inc., 408
F.Supp.2d 811, 816 (W.D. Mo. 2005) (other citations
omitted)). Courts do not evaluate the merits of the
plaintiffs' claim at this early stage. Polzin v.
Schreiber Foods, Inc., No. 10-1117-CV-SW-GAF, 2011 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 142955, at *7 (W.D. Mo. Aug. 15, 2011). Instead,
plaintiffs “need only establish a colorable basis for
[a] claim that the putative class members were together the
victims of a single decision, policy, or plan.”
Id. (citing Kautsch, 504 F.Supp.2d at 688)
(internal quotations marks omitted). This “lenient
standard generally results in conditional certification of a
representative class[.]” Polzin, 2011 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 142955, at *9. As such, any doubts in the notice
stage should favor granting of conditional certification.
court allows conditional certification of a class,
“putative class members are given notice and the
opportunity to ‘opt-in, ' and the action proceeds
as a collective action throughout discovery.”
Id. at *7-8. “At the second step of the
process, the defendant may move to decertify the
class.” Id. This step generally occurs after
discovery is complete when the parties and court have more
information. Kautsch, 504 F.Supp.2d at 688.
the Court's analysis is limited to the notice step, or
first step in the process. Applying a lenient standard, and
based on the Plaintiffs' pleadings and affidavits, the
Court finds, at this stage in the litigation, Plaintiffs have
established a colorable basis for their claim that the
putative class members were the victims of a single decision,
policy, or plan by Hamilton. Although Plaintiffs provide
varying painting duties, the basic claim is that the
employees' painting activities which regularly lasted
over forty (40) hours a week, along with Hamilton's
policy, resulted in unpaid overtime compensation. Such
allegations indicate Hamilton may have implemented a uniform
decision, policy, or plan consistently failing to properly
compensate employees for overtime work in violation of the
FLSA. Therefore, the Court will grant conditional