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Prejean v. Satellite Country Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

April 17, 2018

Prejean et al
Satellite Country Inc.

          Terry A. Doughty Judge.



         Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion For Conditional Certification As A Collective Action and Notice To Potential Class Members, filed by Plaintiff, Christopher Prejean, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated [Rec. Doc. 22], Defendant, Satellite Country, Inc.'s (“Satellite Country”) Opposition [Rec. Doc. 25] and Plaintiffs' Reply thereto [Rec. Doc. 27]. For the following reasons, Plaintiffs' Motion for Conditional Certification will be granted.

         I. Background

         This case involves claims arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Plaintiff states he was hired by Satellite Country, an authorized contractor for Dish TV, and worked as “a satellite technician and/or installation and repair technician.” R. 22-3 Plaintiff alleges that Satellite Country failed to pay him and other satellite technicians overtime as required by the FLSA. Plaintiff contends the Putative Class Members consist of Satellite Technicians employed by Satellite Country. He further contends that he, as well as all putative plaintiffs, had similar job requirements while employed by Satellite Country:

driving to Satellite Country's warehouse every morning to pick up the supplies and equipment he will require for the day as well as a list (or route) of customers he will service that day; driving to customers' homes/businesses to install and/or repair equipment; calling customers to confirm appointments; attending meetings with Satellite Country supervisors; submitting paperwork/electronic notification of completed jobs at the end of each day; and returning to Satellite Country's offices at the end of the day, when necessary.

         R. 22-2, p. 9.

         Plaintiff further states that Satellite Country pays their technicians based upon a “point” system. Specifically, “Satellite Country assigns a numerical point for each job completed by one of its satellite technicians. Each technician is paid based upon the total number of points obtained, without taking into consideration the actual time it took for the technician to complete the job.” Plaintiff contends that Satellite Country “did not pay Prejean or the other technicians for all hours worked, ” has “actual and constructive knowledge of this off-the-clock work, ” and therefore, “has made the conscious election not to pay their technicians for this work.” Id.

         Plaintiff contends that he and the other satellite technicians are similarly situated in that Satellite Country's wage policies are the same and apply to all satellite technicians as follows: (1) the first thing they have to do every morning is to drive to Satellite Country's warehouse to pick up the supplies and equipment they will require for the day as well as a list (or route) of customers they will service that day-without compensation for this time spent; (2) they are subject to deductions from their wages for customer chargebacks, which often cause them to earn less than the statutory minimum wage; and, (3) they are improperly treated as independent contractors, and as such, are not paid overtime wages for hours worked in excess of 40 in a work week.

         Plaintiff moves to conditionally certify a collective action under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) of the FLSA, and that judicially-approved notice be sent by first class mail, e-mail and text message to all individuals who were classified as satellite technicians by Satellite Country at any time during the past three years. If granted conditional certification under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), Plaintiff requests that Satellite Country be required to produce in Excel format the names of all potential collective action members, along with their last known mailing address, e-mail address, telephone number and social security numbers, and dates of employment. Plaintiff further requests posting of the Notice of this action along with the consent forms in conspicuous locations at all of Satellite Country's locations. Finally, Plaintiff moves the Court for an order prohibiting retaliation by Satellite Country or its managers against individuals who opt-in to this lawsuit.

         Satellite Country denies Plaintiff's allegations and opposes collective action certification under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Its primary position is that Plaintiff “performed various functions on behalf of Satellite Country including satellite installation and repair services, ” but Plaintiff also performed “handy man work” on behalf of “I Can Do It” Handyman Services, LLC for Satellite Country. Defendant contends that Satellite Country paid Plaintiff for his handy man work based upon his own bids. R. 25, p. 2. Satellite Country contends that these “side jobs” which Plaintiff voluntarily undertook as a contractor are outside the scope of his FLSA claims and there is not a putative class of individuals who are “similarly situated” for purposes of maintaining a collective action. Satellite Country further contends that Plaintiff's declaration that he “worked at least sixty (60) hours almost every week and often put in seventy (70) hour weeks”, R. 22-3, No. 9, is unclear as to whether these hours include his work as a satellite technician only or also include his “side jobs.” Satellite Country argues that Plaintiff cannot be a proper representative for putative plaintiffs who performed only in the role as a contract satellite technician, without the “side jobs.” Id.

         Thus, the issues raised by the pending motion are whether a collective action is properly certified and, if so, how the class should be defined and whether notice should issue.

         II. Law and Analysis

         A. ...

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