United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
MICHAEL PIAZZA ET AL.
ASSOCIATED WHOLESALE GROCERS INC.
ORDER AND REASONS
TRICHE MILAZZO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Conditional
Certification and Judicial Notice (Doc. 52) and
Defendant's Motion for Protective Order (Doc. 43). For
the following reasons, the motions are DENIED.
a collective action for unpaid wages under the Fair Labor
Standards Act (“FSLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201
et. seq. Defendant Associated Wholesale Grocers,
Inc. (“AWG”) is a national food wholesaler that
operates a warehouse complex in Pearl River, Louisiana as
part of its distribution network. Plaintiff Michael Piazza
worked for Defendant at the Pearl River warehouse as a
laborer. Plaintiff alleges the following: His job duties
included “unloading product from delivery trucks and
placing the products in the warehouse, repackaging product
pallets to prepare for shipment, and loading delivery trucks
with products.” Plaintiff was regularly scheduled to work
eight hours per day for a total of 40 hours per week, but
routinely began work before his scheduled start time, ended
work after his scheduled stop time, and worked through his
scheduled breaks. As a result, Plaintiff regularly worked 60
to 70 hours per week, but was prevented by Defendant from
recording this additional time and therefore was not
compensated for it. Defendant also had a policy of
automatically deducting 30 minutes each day for a lunch
break, rather than having workers clock in and out, despite
the fact that Plaintiff rarely took a break of more than a
submits evidence that work at its Pearl River facility is
divided into two shifts: inbound and outbound. During the
inbound shift, Defendant's employees receive shipments
from various vendors and place them into their proper
locations in Defendant's warehouse. During the outbound
shift, employees performing the role of selector locate,
select, and stack onto pallets goods that customers have
ordered. Selectors then move a completed order to the loading
dock area where employees performing the role of loader place
the pallets into delivery trucks. Forklift operators assist
with the selection and loading processes.
on the outbound shift are eligible for a unique compensation
policy. Selectors who achieve a productivity level of 225
cases selected per hour may be guaranteed the compensation of
a 40-hour work week even if they work fewer hours. Before
each shift a manager posts the number of cases that represent
a selector's fair share of the total for the day. If the
selector pulls that many cases before the shift is over, the
selector may leave work early and still be compensated at the
end of the week for a full 40 hours.
also submits a copy of its employee handbook and the
declaration of an employee working in human resources. The
handbook states in relevant part,
All Non-Exempt employees must swipe their badges when
beginning work, when beginning lunch break, when returning
from lunch and when leaving work. . . . If an employee
forgets to clock in or out, he or she must immediately notify
the employee's immediate supervisor or manager so that
proper action can be taken to record the proper hours worked.
Managers and supervisors are responsible for the accuracy and
integrity of the timekeeping process.
All Non-Exempt employees must take lunch away from their
desks. No. such employee is allowed to work through his or
her lunch period except in rare instances with specific
approval from their immediate supervisor or manager.
Non-Exempt employees are not permitted to work “off the
clock.” If any member of management instructs you to
work “off the clock” to avoid overtime or for any
other purpose, you must report it immediately to the Division
Director of Human Resources Department or the Corporate Vice
President of Human Resources.
All overtime work by Non-Exempt employees must be authorized
in advance by their immediate supervisor or manager. Further,
such employees are not permitted to work additional time
(such as coming in early, working through lunch or remaining
late) without prior approval of their immediate supervisor or
manager. Although working unapproved overtime is grounds for
appropriate discipline, all employees will, and must, be paid
for all actual hours worked.
admits that it configured its employee time management system
to automatically deduct 30 minutes for lunch. It also submits
a declaration from a warehouse supervisor stating that
Defendant has a policy requiring any employee that did not
take a lunch break to report that fact to a supervisor and
fill out a form. The supervisor would then make a
correction in the timekeeping system.
October 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this Court
on behalf of himself and others similarly
situated. As of July 31, 2018, 33 other plaintiffs
have filed opt-in forms with the Court. Plaintiff alleges
that the opt-in plaintiffs worked similar hours as forklift
operators, lead men, and general laborers at the same Pearl
now moves the Court to conditionally certify a class to
proceed as a collective action. Plaintiff seeks certification
of a class including, “All individuals employed by AWG
at any point from October 7, 2014 to the present, who were
compensated on an hourly wage basis, and had 30 minute lunch
breaks automatically removed from their recorded work
hours.” Plaintiff further moves the Court to order
Defendant to produce contact information of potential opt-in
plaintiffs, to approve the form of notice, to allow the
notice to be sent by multiple means, to set the deadline for
filing consent forms at 60 days from the mailing of notice,
and to approve the use of a third-party administrator.
Defendant opposes the Motion.
Defendant moves for a protective order prohibiting certain
communications to potential class ...