United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana
BROCK P. BOUDREAUX, ET AL
SCHLUMBERGER TECHNOLOGY CORP., ET AL
C. MICHAEL HILL, Magistrate Judge.
Pending before the undersigned is the Plaintiffs' Motion for Conditional Certification filed on December 23, 2014. [rec. doc. 33]. Defendant, Schlumberger Technology Corp. ("Schlumberger"), filed opposition on January 22, 2015. [rec. doc. 41]. Plaintiffs filed a reply on February 2, 2015. [rec. doc. 44]. Schlumberger supplemented its opposition to include an additional declaration on February 4, 2015. [rec. doc. 47]. Oral Argument on the Motion was held on February 5, 2015.
For the following reasons, plaintiffs' Motion for Conditional Certification is GRANTED, and two Putative Classes are hereby conditionally certified: (1) Directional Drillers, and (2) Operators.
This case involves claims arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). Plaintiffs are Directional Drillers ("Drillers"), Measurement While Drilling Operators ("MWD") and Logging While Drilling Operators ("LWD") (both of which are hereinafter referred to collectively as "Operators"), who allege that Schlumberger failed to pay them overtime as required by the FLSA. The Putative Class Members consist of all Drillers and Operators employed by Schlumberger during the past three years (collectively, the "Putative Class Members").
Plaintiffs allege that they have been, and continue to be, denied overtime pay as a result of a "widespread corporate policy that uniformly misclassifies them as exempt from the FLSA overtime provisions, regardless of any individualized factor such as experience, age, job duties, or geography." [rec. doc. 33, p. 2]. They assert that as a result of Schlumberger's classification decision, it paid all Putative Class Members a salary plus day rate basis, with no overtime pay. [ Id. ].
In the instant motion, Plaintiffs move to conditionally certify a collective action under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) of the FLSA, and that judicially-approved notice be sent to all Putative Class Members by first class mail and e-mail. If granted conditional certification under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), plaintiffs request that Schlumberger be required to produce the names, addresses, telephone addresses and e-mail addresses for each Putative Class Member in a usable electronic format, and authorize a 60-day notice period for Putative Class Members to Join the case.
Schlumberger denies the plaintiffs' allegations and opposes collective action certification under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Its primary position is that the plaintiffs are not "similarly situated" for purposes of maintaining a collective action. More specifically, Schlumberger claims that the different job classifications held by the plaintiffs require case-by-case analysis, and are thus inappropriate for a collective action.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
The Fair Labor Standards Act sets a general minimum wage for employees engaged in commerce. 29 U.S.C. § 206(a)(1). Section 207(a) requires covered employers to compensate nonexempt employees at overtime rates for time worked in excess of statutorily defined maximum hours. 29 U.S.C. § 207(a). The FLSA creates a cause of action for violations of provisions of the Act, which include the minimum wage and overtime provisions. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b).
Section 216(b) of the FLSA permits a plaintiff to maintain such an action on "behalf of himself... and other employees similarly situated. No employee shall be a party plaintiff to any such action unless he gives his consent in writing to become such a party and such consent is filed in the court in which such action is brought." 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). A collective action affords plaintiffs "the advantage of lower individual costs to vindicate rights by the pooling of resources. The judicial system benefits by efficient resolution in one proceeding of common issues of law and fact." Hoffman-La Roche, Inc. v. Sperling, 493 U.S. 165, 170, 110 S.Ct. 482, 486 (1989).
Unlike class actions brought under Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 23, a collective action under the FLSA provides an "opt-in" rather than an "opt-out" procedure for potential plaintiffs. Mooney v. Aramco Services, 54 F.3d 1207, 1212 (5th Cir. 1995), overruled on other grounds by Desert Palace, Inc. v. Costa, 539 U.S. 90, 90-91, 123 S.Ct. 2148, 156 L.Ed.2d 84 (2003). District courts have discretion, in appropriate cases, to implement 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) in FLSA actions by facilitating notice to potential plaintiffs. Hoffman-La Roche, Inc., 493 U.S. at 169-170.
Two requirements must be met to maintain a collective action under the FLSA. Green v. Plantation of Louisiana, LLC, 2010 WL 5256354, *3 ( quoting Whitworth v. Chiles Offshore Corp., 1992 WL 235907, *1 (E.D. La. 1992) (McNamara, J)). First, the named representatives and the members of the prospective FLSA class must be similarly situated. Id. There must be "some factual nexus which binds the named plaintiffs and the potential class members together as victims of a particular alleged [policy or practice]." Id.; England v. New Century Financial Corp., 370 F.Supp.2d 504, 508 (M.D. La. 2005). Second, the action at issue must be one of general effect. Whitworth, 1992 WL 235907, at *1. Accordingly, courts have held that a court may deny a plaintiff's right to proceed collectively only if the action arises from circumstances purely personal to the plaintiff ...