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Stephenson v. DLP Enterprises, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division

February 26, 2016

EARL STEPHENSON, et at, Plaintiffs,
v.
DLP Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Paige Decking, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

Raymond A. Jackson, United States District Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Conditional Class Certification pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216 (b). ECF No. 21. Specifically, Plaintiffs move for conditional certification of an opt-in class of all persons who worked for Defendants as piece workers or hourly workers at any time since August 7, 2012, with two sub-classes: (1) laborers who worked in excess of forty hours in one or more workweeks but were not paid overtime compensation; and {2) laborers who worked in one or more workweeks but were not paid at least minimum wage for every hour worked, id. The Motion has been fully briefed, and the Court has determined that a hearing would not aid in the decisional process. For the reasons stated below. Plaintiffs' Motion is GRANTED.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This action is a Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLS.A") case filed pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) to recover compensatory and liquidated damages, attorney fees, and other relief. Plaintiffs assert that Defendants violated the FLSA, and they therefore bring this case on behalf of themselves and all other employees similarly situated. Plaintiffs also assert individual claims for unpaid wages under state law.

Defendant DLP Enterprises is a subcontractor to businesses with contracts with the United States Government. Specifically, DLP performs maintenance and rehabilitation work on U.S. Navy and Military ships. Defendants Denise and Scott Paige are the owners, officers, and directors of DLP, and control the day-to-day operations of the company. The Paiges handle hiring and firing of employees, direct timekeeping and payroll practices, and set wages, assignments, and employee schedules. Plaintiffs first started working for DLP through a staffing firm but were later hired directly by Defendants. During their employment with Defendants, Plaintiffs were laborers who performed piecework at $1.50/sq foot or $2.50/sq foot and non-piece work at $ 10/hr.

On October 1, 2014, Plaintiffs filed the Complaint alleging three claims: (1) Unpaid Overtime and Straight Time under the FLSA; (2) Unpaid Minimum Wage under the FLSA; and (3) Breach of Contract.

On October 28, 2014, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. ECF No. 9. Plaintiff responded on November 13, 2014, with a Cross Motion to Amend/Correct Complaint and a Memorandum in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. ECF Nos. 12 and 13. Defendant filed a Reply on November 20, 2014. The Court heard oral argument on the motion and issued an Order denying the Motion to Dismiss on July 1, 2015.

Defendants filed an Answer to the Complaint on July 7, 2015. ECF No. 19, and the instant Motion was filed on August 7, 2015. The parties have submitted memoranda in support and opposition and the Motion is ripe for judicial determination.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Section 216(b) of the FLSA explicitly provides for representative or class actions:

An action to recover the liability prescribed [under the FLSA] may be maintained against any employer in any Federal or State court of competent jurisdiction by any one or more employees for and in behalf of himself or themselves and other employees similarly situated. No employee shall be a party plaintiff to [a class] 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). Thus, FLSA class certification requires: (1) that the Plaintiffs in the class be "similarly situated, " and (2) that the plaintiffs included in the class "opt in" by filing with the court their consent to the suit. Enkhbayar Choimbol v. Fairfiied Resorts, Inc., 475 F.Supp.2d 557, 562 (E.D. Va. 2006). Permitting certification is "intended to serve the important objectives embodied in the FLSA by facilitating a resolution in a single proceeding of claims stemming from common issues of law and fact, and to aid in the vindication of the plaintiffs' rights by lowering the individuals' costs by pooling claims and resources." Houston v. URS Corp., 591 F.Supp.2d 827, 831 (E.D. Va. 2008) (citing Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. v. Sperling, 493 U.S. 165, 170(1989)).

The initial FLSA class certification commences with conditional certification, prior to discovery, after a showing that the putative class members are similarly situated. Choimbol v. Fairfiied Resorts, Inc., 475 F.Supp.2d 557, 562-63 (E.D. Va. 2006). At this stage in the proceedings, the district court's determination of whether to grant conditional certification is "made using a fairly lenient standard." Mooney v. Aramco Servs. Co., 54 F.3d 1207, 1213-14 (5th Cir. 1995). This first stage is known as the notice stage. Here, the district court determines whether initial notice of the action should be provided to potential class members. Id. The court need not rely on more than "substantial allegations that the putative class members were together victims of a single decision, policy or plan." D'Anna v. M/A-COM, Inc., 903 F.Supp. 889, 893 (D. Md. 1995). Finally, "the district court may facilitate this notice by allowing discovery of the names and ...


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