I often preach that, when dealing with a class action, the employer should try to pick off the named plaintiff, perhaps overpaying to do so (or maybe not). In this interesting case, the parties settled (i.e. with the named plaintiff) right after the class had been decertified. The plaintiff had argued that he was misclassified as an independent contractor. The case is entitled Roberson et al. v. Restaurant Delivery Developers LLC et al., and was filed in federal court in the Middle District of Florida.
The settlement came after the Judge held that the named plaintiff had not shown that there was sufficient similarity between he and the other workers he wanted in the collective action. Thus, the Court granted the employer’s motion to decertify the collective action due to this dissimilarity between the employees.
The suit began in March 2017, on the theory that the Company had misclassified the workers as independent contractors and was not paying overtime. The Judge granted conditional certification in September 2017. The Company defended by asserting that it never hired Roberson (or anyone else) and was a consulting company that assisted local restaurant delivery entities in getting off the ground and which would use the Doorstep Delivery in a manner similar to being a franchisee. These new companies would then use delivery drivers who were deemed to be independent contractors.
Mr. Roberson contended that this company gave out a manual to its customers, the licensed restaurant delivery companies. The Judge, however, concluded that did not mean that the discrete delivery companies had put the polices into operation. The Judge also noted that the manual did not have any guidance for significant components of the job, such as whether they could face penalties for refusing deliveries.
Thus, the Court dismissed claims of the opt-in plaintiffs, but allowed Mr. Roberson to continue to pursue his own claims.
This is an excellent result. All the more better if it can be done sooner, rather than later, in the litigation “process.”
And a lot cheaper…