Recently, in April of 2010, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan heard a case regarding unpaid FLSA overtime and nonpayment of wages for outside plant engineers for a telephone company. (See Wlotkowski v. Michigan Bell Telephone Company, 267 F.R.D. 213 (E.D.MI.)). In Wlotkowski, there were eleven named Plaintiffs. Id. They sued on their behalf and that of others similarly situated. Id. They all held the job title of “manager, Outside Plant Planning Engineering and Design.” This is a class action lawsuit. The Plaintiffs sued claiming they were owed overtime FLSA payments in that Defendant misclassified them as exempt employees. Id.
The case was before the Court on a motion to conditionally certify the proposed class as permitted by the FLSA for purposes of notice and discovery. Id. The Plaintiffs also wanted the names and contact information of those that held the same or similar job within the past 3 years, they wanted this information on a Microsoft Excel format, and they wanted 90 days for the Notice period to have time to send out the notices. The Court agreed to all this and granted Plaintiff’s Motion. The reasoning is as follows.
In the case at hand, the Plaintiffs all worked for the Defendant as an Outside Plant Engineer over the past 3 years. Id. In the Court file, there were also another 60 current or former Outside Plant Engineers that have joined in the litigation filing their written consent. Id. Defendant claims that all the Plaintiffs are exempt from FLSA overtime under the Administrative exemption. Id. That the ““primary duty is the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of Defendant and Defendant’s customers” and the “primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.”” (cites omitted). Id.
Plaintiffs in their motion submit 35 declarations of people that though there were called outside Plant Engineers, were in fact not ‘engineers.’ Id. They did not have an engineering degree or any other special training or education. Id. Further, they were not licensed by the State of Michigan as professional engineers. Id. As stated by one Plaintiff, they were more like ‘clerical people,’ not like an engineer in its true sense. Id.
In this FLSA overtime case, Plaintiffs also testify as to how they have no control over a large portion of the work they do. Id. Plaintiffs’ work consists of apply standards to what they do o specifications that are already predetermined to a given situation using predetermined guidelines and rules. Id. Also, the Plaintiffs do not supervise, hire, fire evaluate, or discipline any other employees, and no one reported to them. Id.
In order to get the class certification, the Plaintiffs must first prove that they are actually similarly situated and all plaintiffs must signal in writing their affirmative consent to participate in the action. Id. There are two stages to the process. The first certification, also known as the “notice stage” takes place early in the litigation and is where the court determines whether the suit should be conditional certified. Id. The second stage occurs much later after all the opt-in forms have been received and discovery has been concluded. Id.
In this FLSA overtime case, the Plaintiffs are only at the first stage. They are seeking conditional, not final certification. Id. It is up to the Plaintiffs to show that the opt-in plaintiffs are similarly situated to the lead plaintiffs. Id. In the case at hand, the Plaintiffs have done so and this Court approved the conditional class. Id. As the Court noted, “the plaintiff must show only that his position is similar, not identical, to the positions held by the putative class members.” (cites omitted). Id.
As to the Plaintiffs’ proposed notice, the Court had to rule on a few minor technical issues as to what the actual “Notice” said. The Defendants argued that some of the language was misleading or too strong and the Court ruled on these matters accordingly. Further, the Court granted the 90 day period to handle this in that 30 days was too short a time to handle retuned or undeliverable mail. The 90 days was reasonable.
Thus, if you are a Louisville Overtime worker and have a question as to whether your case should become a class action lawsuit, contact a Louisville overtime lawyer. Mr. Alitowski, a Louisville overtime lawyer, can assist you and your co-workers in a failure to pay overtime lawsuit.
If you have been the subject of Louisville Overtime Non-payment of wages, please call and speak to a Louisville overtime Non-payment of wages lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew S. Alitowski at 888-ASK-ANDREW (275-2637) or contact us online. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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