I often (happily) blog about employer victories in defeating efforts of plaintiffs to secure conditional certification in FLSA overtime cases. Well, another victory has come down the pike. A federal judge has just denied a motion for conditional certification, finding (as is often the case) that common issues among the putative class did not predominate. The case is entitled Johnson et al. v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., and was filed in federal court in the Central District of California.
The Judge concluded that Goodyear did not have common, uniform policies of not paying hourly employees at the auto service centers for making bank runs. The plaintiff also argued that the Company did not include bonuses when computing the regular rate for overtime. The Judge disagreed, stating that “to the extent plaintiff’s claim alleging miscalculation of overtime pay rests on his own experience with rounding errors in his paychecks, he has failed to demonstrate that other putative class members suffered similar harm.”
The plaintiff alleged that when he would close the “Just Tires” facility, he would be compelled to go off-the-clock to finish his duties of setting the alarm and depositing receipts at the bank; he claimed compensation for those duties. He also alleged that since all of his work was not taken into account and bonuses not included in the overtime calculation, he was improperly paid in contravention of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The lead plaintiff estimated there were 100-4,000 affected by these transgressions, a sizeable class under any definition.
The Judge ruled that, as common issues did not predominate as to alleged unpaid working time, there were also no common issues applicable to the derivative claim seeking damages and other remedies for allegedly “deficient” wage statements. The Judge also tossed aside a weak claim concerning publication (or not) of some Social Security number digits. The Court noted that some members of the putative class members accessed their statements digitally and thus they were compelled to input those numbers.
If there are no written policies on a particular issue, i.e., an alleged wage-hour violation, then the plaintiff has a more difficult task in that he must demonstrate the existence of a “practice” that applied to everyone. Although it could be argued that going to the bank was for the employer’s convenience and therefore should have been compensated, the plaintiff failed to show that everyone in his classification was “required” to do this. This is how these motions are defeated.
A good start for the upcoming year!
Happy New Year!