Often, when a class of workers petitions for conditional certification in FLSA collective action, and such certification is granted, it usually is for the entire class being asked for. Sometimes it is not and when that happens, it is “news.” That has happened in a recent Pennsylvania case where the proposed class was more than two-hundred workers and the certified class was less than forty. The case is entitled Hunt v. McKesson Corp., and was filed in federal court in the Western District of Pennsylvania.
The Judge slashed the sought-after class from all McKesson employees in the “grade 103″ category to only the workers in the grade whose job descriptions matched concerning the use and levels of discretion and judgment. The Judge noted that “this is a conditionally certified collective that is comprised of a group of employees for whom McKesson itself describes the scope of their discretion and judgment identically. It is McKesson’s grouping of different titles with identical definitions of discretion and judgment (which plaintiff attests were accurate in practice) and McKesson’s identical treatment of that group for purposes of overtime exemptions that makes those job positions sufficiently similarly situated at the conditional certification stage.”
The plaintiff alleged that her duties lacked the requisite discretion and independent judgment needed for the administrative exemption. The named plaintiff asserted that her job entailed that she “[follow] policies and procedures in analyzing situations or data from which answers can be readily obtained,” and that similar language was found in the description for other grade 103 jobs. If that was borne out, it certainly would not be discretion as contemplated by the regulations.
The Judge made specific note that many of the job descriptions at issue had language different than the plaintiff’s and these differences impacted whether or not discretion was utilized by the workers. The Judge found that “plaintiff continues to lump together ‘readily obtained’ job positions with ‘appropriate action’ job positions, but plaintiff has no evidence to show how those two ‘sub-categories’ of grade 103 are similarly situated to one another other than they share the same grade 103.” Then, he cut the class.
This Judge really delved into the minutiae of this matter and made a very reasoned decision that the class being asked for was an overreach. This could well be a sound tactic for defense counsel to utilize when attacking a class and trying to whittle it down, if not eliminate/defeat it entirely.
It’s a start…