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Migues v. We Care Homes Inc.

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

October 29, 2019

NELLIE MIGUES
v.
WE CARE HOMES INC ET AL

          JUNEAU JUDGE.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          PATRICK J. HANNA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the Plaintiff's Motion to Conditionally Certify a FLSA Collective Action, Approve Notice and Expedited Consideration. (Rec. Doc. 9; Memorandum in Support at Rec. Doc. 12). Defendants, We Care Homes, Inc. and Kyle Jones, opposed the Motion (Rec. Doc. 13), and Plaintiff replied (Rec. Doc. 16). Considering the evidence, the law, and the arguments of the parties, and for the reasons fully explained below, Plaintiff's Motion is GRANTED.

         Factual Background

         Plaintiff, Nellie Migues, individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated current and former employees of Defendants, filed this suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act against her former employer, We Care Homes, Inc. and Kyle Jones, We Care's alleged manager. Plaintiff alleges that she was employed by We Care as a home health worker[1] from September 2018 through June 2019, and that during that time she worked hours in excess of forty hours per week but was not paid overtime as required by the FLSA. (Rec. Doc. 1; 9-2, ¶2-3; 12). She further attested that her We Care supervisor assigned her hours to work with each client and that because of the nature of the work and the works days scheduled by We Care, she and other home healthcare workers regularly worked more than forty hours in a week. (Rec. Doc. 9-2, ¶7-9). She was required to record her time on a standardized We Care form, which she turned in to We Care. (Rec. Doc. 9-2, ¶10). Plaintiff asserted that she had “personal knowledge from talking to We Care administrators and other home health workers that We Care did not pay its home health workers overtime for hours worked over 40 in a work week, ” and that “all home healthcare workers employed by We Care shared the same job descriptions and performed the same basic functions.” (Rec. Doc. 9-2, ¶13-14).

         Plaintiff filed the instant Motion seeking conditional class certification under the FLSA authorizing such actions. In support of her Motion, Plaintiff submitted, in addition to her own affidavit, the affidavits of Ashley Walker and Samantha Migues, each of whom attested similarly. (Rec. Doc. 9-6 and 9-7).

         Law and Analysis

         The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) obligates employers to pay their employees over-time rates (one and one-half times of their regular rate of pay) for hours worked over forty hours per week. 29 U.S.C. §207(a)(1). An employee may bring a claim for FLSA violations on behalf of himself and other similarly-situated employees, but the other employees do not become plaintiffs in the action unless and until they consent in writing, or “opt-in.” 29 U.S.C. §216(b); Sandoz v. Cingular Wireless LLC, 553 F.3d 913, 915 (5th Cir. 2008).

         The remedial nature and purpose of the FLSA “militate strongly in favor of allowing cases to proceed collectively.” West v. Lowes Home Centers, Inc., No. 6:09-1310, 2010 WL 5582941, at *3 (W.D. La. Dec. 16, 2010), report and recommendation adopted, No. 6:09-1310, 2011 WL 126908 (W.D. La. Jan. 14, 2011) (quoting Roussell v. Brinker Int'l, Inc., No. H-05-3733, 2008 WL 2714079, at *24 (S.D. Tex. July 9, 2008)). 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 (1989); Green v. Plantation of Louisiana, No. 2:10-0364, 2010 WL 5256354, *3 (W.D. La. Nov. 24, 2010), report and recommendation adopted, No. 2:1-0364, 2010 WL 5256348 (W.D. La. Dec. 15, 2010); Boudreaux v. Schlumberger Technology Corp., No. 6:14-2267, 2015 WL 796602, *2 (W.D. La. Feb. 25, 2015). District courts typically apply the two-step framework enunciated in Lusardi v. Xerox Corp.[2]

[C]ollective actions typically proceed in two stages. First, the plaintiff moves for conditional certification of his or her collective action. The district court then decides, usually based on the pleadings and affidavits of the parties, whether to provide notice to fellow employees who may be similarly situated to the named plaintiff, thereby conditionally certifying a collective action. Second, once discovery is complete and the employer moves to decertify the collective action, the court must make a factual determination as to whether there are similarly-situated employees who have opted in. If so, the collective action may proceed, and if not, the court must dismiss the opt-in employees, leaving only the named plaintiff's original claims.

Sandoz, 553 F.3d at 916, fn. 2 (5th Cir. 2008), citing Mooney v. Aramco Servs. Co., 54 F.3d 1207, 1213-14 (5th Cir.1995), overruled on other grounds by Desert Palace, Inc. v. Costa, 539 U.S. 90 (2003).[3]

         A. Whether conditional certification is warranted.

         Plaintiff invokes stage one by seeking conditional certification and urging the Court to facilitate providing notice to other We Care employees. The standard for satisfying step one is “fairly lenient.” Mooney, 54 F.3d at 1214. The initial determination of whether the putative collective members are sufficiently similarly situated to the named plaintiff to proceed collectively is based on “minimal evidence, ” before discovery happens. Id. This Court has further previously synthesized the law applicable to conditional certification as follows:

At the notice stage, the plaintiff bears the burden of making a preliminary factual showing that at least a few similarly situated individuals exist. The plaintiff may satisfy his or her burden through submission of evidence in the form of pleadings, affidavits[, ] and other supporting documentation. At the notice stage, ‘courts appear to require nothing more than substantial allegations that the putative class members were together the victims of a single decision, policy, or plan infected by discrimination.' Because the court has minimal evidence, this determination is made using a fairly lenient standard, and typically results in conditional certification of a representative class where potential class members receive ...

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