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Wegat v. Prosteam Carpert Care LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

August 11, 2017

JOSH WEGAT, et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
PROSTEAM CARPERT CARE LLC, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, [Doc. No. 9], and Plaintiffs' Motion to Certify Class, [Doc. No. 16]. The parties oppose the other's motion. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Dismiss is granted. The Motion to Certify is denied as moot, without prejudice to refiling.

         Facts and Background

         Plaintiffs are carpet cleaning technicians who bring this action on behalf of themselves and a similarly situated class of plaintiffs against their employers. Plaintiffs contend that even though they are classified as “independent contractors, ” they are, in reality, employees of the LLC and the individual defendants. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), et seq. (“FLSA”) and the Missouri Minimum Wage Law, § 290.500 RSMo, et seq. (“MMWL”). Defendants have moved to dismiss, and the matter has now been fully briefed.

         According to the complaint, Defendants are engaged in the business of residential and commercial cleaning of flooring and upholstery, with a specific focus on carpet cleaning. Defendants employ technicians to perform cleaning services for Defendants' customers. Plaintiffs have performed work for Defendants as technicians.

         Plaintiffs allege that although Defendants have classified Plaintiffs as “independent contractors, ” Plaintiffs were in reality employees of Defendants. The hours worked by Plaintiffs and those similarly situated were not recorded by Defendants; expenses for travel and related work expenses were not fully reimbursed; and overtime pay was not paid for all hours worked in a workweek in excess of forty (40) hours per workweek. By failing to record, report, and/or preserve accurate records of hours worked by Plaintiffs and other similarly situated employees, Defendants have failed to make, keep, and preserve records with respect to each of their workers/employees sufficient to determine their employee wages, hours, and other conditions and practices of employment, in violation of the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq.

         Plaintiffs and those similarly situated regularly worked long hours per day and per workweek in order to complete jobs assigned to them by Defendants. Plaintiffs and other similarly situated employees worked in excess of forty (40) hours per week on a regular basis.

         At the time of being hired by Defendants, Plaintiffs had no previous experience working in Defendants' industry. Plaintiffs and other similarly situated workers were required by Defendants to undergo initial training by doing a “ride-along” with an experienced technician for multiple days, and Defendants provided no pay for this required initial training. After their initial training, Plaintiffs and other similarly situated workers received ongoing training/instruction from Defendants as to how to perform their job.

         Per Defendants' policy and practice, if a customer's carpet has to be re-cleaned, the technician originally assigned to that job either has to return to the customer's location and re-clean the carpet for no additional pay, or Defendants send another technician to do the re-clean job and pay that other technician a fee, and then the fee is deducted from the paycheck of the original technician.

         Plaintiffs and other similarly situated technicians were required by Defendants to take Defendants' company vehicles and other equipment to a third party shop for repairs and wait for the vehicles to be repaired, and they were not compensated for that work time.

         Plaintiffs and other similarly situated technicians were required by Defendants to visit potential customer locations to “bid” jobs. Plaintiffs and other similarly situated technicians were not compensated for that work time. Plaintiffs and other similarly situated technicians were required by Defendants to attend mandatory sales meetings, and they were not compensated for that work time.

         In addition to failing and refusing to pay overtime pay for time spent working on assigned cleaning jobs, Plaintiffs and other similarly situated employees were not compensated at all for time they spent on other work related tasks, such as travel time, time in meetings/training, time spent performing preparatory tasks at Defendants' shop at the beginning of the work day, time spent performing tasks at Defendants' shop at the end of the work day, time spent obtaining repairs on Defendants' equipment, time spent at potential customer locations for job bids, etc.

         As a result of being misclassified unlawfully as independent contractors, Plaintiffs and other similarly situated employees were denied overtime pay unlawfully, in violation of the FLSA. The deliberate failure of Defendants to pay Plaintiffs and those similarly situated their earned wages and overtime compensation violates the FLSA. The net effect of the policies and/or practices maintained and administered by Defendants, instituted and approved by company managers, is that Defendants willfully failed to pay wages owed and ...


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