United States District Court, E.D. California
NATHANIEL J. TAYLOR and HARRY L. HARRISON, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
ALLIEDBARTON SECURITY SERVICES LP; and DOES 1-10, inclusive, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STAY STATE LAW CLAIMS AND DENYING MOTION TO STAY FLSA CLAIM (DOC. No. 15)
SHEILA K. OBERTO, Magistrate Judge.
On October 7, 2013, Plaintiffs Nathaniel Taylor ("Taylor") and Harry Harrison ("Harrison") (collectively, "Plaintiffs") filed a putative class action and collective action complaint in this Court. Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC") on November 26, 2013. (Doc. 7.) Plaintiffs' FAC sets forth seven (7) causes of action: (1) failure to pay minimum wages and/or overtime wages under California Labor Code ("CLC") §§ 510 and 1194; (2) failure to provide employees with accurate information on pay stubs under CLC §226; (3) failure to provide rest breaks under CLC §§ 226.7 and 512 and the California Industrial Welfare Commission's ("IWC") Wage Order 4 ("Wage Order 4"); (4) failure to provide meal breaks under CLC §§ 226.7 and 512 and Wage Order 4; (5) failure to pay minimum wages and/or overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b); (6) violation of California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), California Business and Professions Code § 17200 et seq.; and (7) civil penalties under CLC § 2698 et seq., the Private Attorney Generals Act ("PAGA").
On February 10, 2014, AlliedBarton Security Services LP ("AlliedBarton") filed a Motion to Stay and set a hearing for March 19, 2014. (Doc. 12.) On March 5, 2014, AlliedBarton withdrew its Motion to Stay, refiled it, and renoticed a hearing on the motion for April 2, 2014. (Doc. 15.) Plaintiffs filed an Opposition to AlliedBarton's Motion to Stay on March 19, 2014. (Doc. 17.) Plaintiffs request that this Court deny the Motion to Stay, or, if granted, that it also toll the FLSA statute of limitations for (1) the stay's duration, and (2) the two-week period between the first scheduled hearing on the Motion to Stay and the rescheduled hearing. AlliedBarton submitted its Reply to Plaintiffs' Opposition on March 26, 2014. (Doc. 20.)
On March 31, 2014, having reviewed the parties' briefs and all supporting documentation, the Court determined that this matter was suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California's Local Rule 230(g); thus, the hearing set for April 2, 2014, was vacated.
For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Stay is GRANTED as to the six state-law claims and DENIED as to the FLSA claim.
A. This Action - Taylor v. AlliedBarton Security Services LP, Case No. 1:13-cv-01613-AWI-SKO
AlliedBarton is a security officer services company based in Delaware with over 55, 000 employees nationwide. (Doc. 7, ¶ 8.) Its employees provide security services at shopping centers and malls. Beginning on October 1, 2011, AlliedBarton began providing security services for a number of shopping centers owned by the Macerich corporation and/or Macerich's parent company, TMC. (Doc. 7, ¶ 14.) At that time, security personnel at the Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto, California, who had previously been employed by Macerich, became employed by AlliedBarton. (Doc. 7, ¶ 14.)
Plaintiff Taylor began working for AlliedBarton as a non-exempt, hourly security supervisor on October 1, 2011, and is a current employee of AlliedBarton. Plaintiff Harrison began working for AlliedBarton as a non-exempt, hourly security supervisor on October 1, 2011, and worked in that capacity until approximately April 1, 2012, at which time Harrison began working the graveyard shift as a security guard, rather than working as a supervisor. He remains a non-exempt, hourly employee of AlliedBarton.
Plaintiffs' complaint stems from various personnel practices and policies of AlliedBarton. According to the FAC, AlliedBarton required its security guards to wear uniforms provided by the company. (Doc. 7, ¶ 17.) AlliedBarton also required that the uniforms stay on the work premises, and AlliedBarton provided lockers and a changing room for the guards. The guards' uniforms consisted of a shirt, pants, a duty belt, handcuffs, a flashlight, pepper spray, and a radio. Plaintiffs state they were required to arrive approximately fifteen minutes prior to their shift to change into their uniforms, and to don and fill their duty belts with the required components. Similarly, at the end of each shift, they and other security officers spent time changing from their uniforms into street clothes. This time spent donning and doffing their required work uniforms, approximately 30 minutes per shift, was uncompensated. In addition, Plaintiffs were not compensated for time walking from the locker rooms to the clock-in and clock-out area, which Plaintiffs estimate required an additional 10 minutes per shift. Starting in April 2013, security officers were allowed to take their pants and shirts home, but they were still required to arrive approximately 10 minutes before their shift and remain 10 minutes after clocking out to doff a duty belt and place its contents in the locker rooms. (Doc. 7, ¶ 18.) Security supervisors, such as Plaintiffs, were also required to spend another 30 to 45 minutes per shift filling out and editing reports and emailing, which was uncompensated pursuant to AlliedBarton's policy. (Doc. 7, ¶ 19.)
Additionally, Plaintiffs claim that AlliedBarton failed to provide security guards with proper rest breaks and a thirty-minute, uninterrupted meal period as required by California law. Security guards remained on-call and carried handheld radios during lunches and breaks, and were required to respond to any security needs that arose during such rest and meal breaks. (Doc. 7, ¶ 20.) However, guards were required to clock out during their meal periods. AlliedBarton required its employees to execute meal waivers in light of its blanket policy that all security guards were to remain on call during meal breaks. (Doc. 7, ¶ 22.)
Finally, Plaintiffs claim that the break room, the men's room, and the clock-in and clock-out area suffered a rat infestation. Plaintiff Taylor reported the situation, which AlliedBarton failed to remedy. (Doc. 7, ¶ 24.)
Plaintiffs worked for Macerich before AlliedBarton undertook security services for Vintage Faire Mall. (Doc. 7, ¶¶ 10-11.) In a class action case against Macerich entitled Adan Bernardino Peralta v. Macerich Management Company, Case Number 1004656 (" Adan "), the Marin County Superior Court entered an Order, Judgment, and a Decree Granting Final Approval of a Class-Action Settlement and Awarding Attorneys' Fees and Costs against Macerich on December 11, 2011. Macerich is not a defendant in this matter.
B. Similar Actions
1. Babeshkov v. AlliedBarton Security Services, No. BC388257 (Los Angeles Superior Court, filed April 1, 2008)
On April 1, 2008, Plaintiff Mikhail Babeshkov filed a class action suit against AlliedBarton in Los Angeles County Superior Court ( Babeshkov v. AlliedBarton Security Services, Case No. BC388257 (" Babeshkov "). Babeshkov alleged claims on behalf of himself and a putative class of all other security officers (and any other non-exempt employees) employed by AlliedBarton in California from 2004 to the date of filing of the lawsuit: (1) failure to pay wages pursuant to the CLC; (2) failure to provide rest periods and meal periods pursuant to the CLC; (3) failure to timely pay wages pursuant to the CLC; and (4) restitution and injunctive relief pursuant to the UCL of California Business and Professions Code § 1700 et seq.  (Doc 15-3, Ex. D at ¶¶ 40-68.)
At the time Babeshkov filed his complaint, AlliedBarton was defending another putative class action ("the Popek Action") that had been filed in 2006 in San Francisco County Superior Court and which contained the same claims on behalf of the same putative class. As a result, in July 2008, the court stayed the Babeshkov action pending disposition of the putative class claims in the Popek Action. (Doc. 15-1, p. 4.)
On June 3, 2011, the court in the Popek Action denied the plaintiffs' motion for class certification. The Babeshkov court thereafter lifted the stay of that action. (Doc. 15-2, p. 2.) Following the lifting of the stay in Babeshkov, the parties have engaged in discovery and case management conferences, and a privacy notice has been sent to the putative class members. Id. According to AlliedBarton, the Babeshkov court indicated it will set the briefing schedule for the plaintiffs' motion for class certification at the next status conference. (Doc. 22, p. 3.)
2. Dynabursky v. AlliedBarton Security Services, No. 8:12-cv-2210-JLS (Central District of California, filed December 21, 2012) (" Dynabursky ")
On December 21, 2012, Plaintiff Gregory Dynabursky ("Dynabursky") filed a putative class action against AlliedBarton in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleging that AlliedBarton failed to provide Dynaburksy and similarly situated hourly security officers with proper duty-free meal and rest breaks. (Doc. 15-3, Ex. B. ¶¶ 3, 7, 33, 38, 40.) Dynabursky sought to represent a class of all AlliedBarton's security officers employed in California at any time from December 21, 2008, to the filing date. ( Id. at ¶ 16.) Dynabusrky alleged claims for (1) failure to provide duty-free meal breaks; (2) failure to provide duty-free rest breaks; (3) failure to provide accurate wage statements; and (4) a UCL claim-all stemming from the same meal and rest break allegations.
On January 29, 2014, the court granted Dynabursky's motion for certification of the following classes: (1) all of AlliedBarton's past and present California employees who worked more than 6 hours in any on-duty meal break work shift as a security officer from December 21, 2008, to the present; (2) all of AlliedBarton's past and present California employees who worked more than 6 hours in any on-duty meal break work shift as a security officer from December 21, 2008, to the present who received itemized wage statements; (3) all of AlliedBarton's past and present California employees who worked more than 3.5 hours in any work shift as a security officer from December 21, 2008, to the present; and (4) all of AlliedBarton's past and present California employees who worked more than 3.5 hours in any work shift as a security officer from December 21, 2008, to the present who received itemized wage statements. (Doc. 15-3, Ex. C.)
3. Navarro v. AlliedBarton Security Services, No. 683341 (Stanislaus County Superior Court, filed March 26, 2013) (" Navarro ")
On February 27, 2013, Plaintiff Erik Navarro ("Navarro") filed a putative class action against AlliedBarton in California state court, followed by a First Amended Complaint in March 2013. Navarro alleged that AlliedBarton failed to pay Navarro and similarly situated security officers for time spent donning and doffing uniforms and duty equipment and for related off-the-clock work. (Doc. 15-3, Ex. A ¶¶ 18-19.) Navarro's claims include (1) failure to pay wages under CLC §§ 510, 1194(a), 1174, and 1197; (2) failure to provide accurate wage statements under CLC § 226; (3) failure to timely pay wages under CLC §§ 201-204; (4) a UCL claim under California Business and Professions Code §17200 et seq.; and (5) a PAGA claim. (Doc. 15-3, Ex. A pp. 6-17.) Navarro filed suit on behalf of all individuals employed by AlliedBarton in hourly security officer positions in California at any time since February 2009. ( Id. at ¶ 13.)
According to AlliedBarton, on January 29, 2014, the parties mediated Navarro and reached a settlement of all claims in the action on behalf of an agreed subclass of individuals employed by AlliedBarton in hourly security positions at any Macerich site in California at any time from February 2009 to January 29, 2014. (Doc. 15-2, p. 2.) The parties are reportedly in the process of seeking court approval of the settlement. ( Id. ) Plaintiffs Taylor and Harrison are both class members in the Navarro case. (Doc. 20, p. 7.)
III. THE PARTIES' ARGUMENTS
A. Allied Barton's Motion to Stay
AlliedBarton moved to stay the present action under the federal first-to-file rule and the Colorado River doctrine, as well as under the Court's inherent discretionary power to stay proceedings in the interests of judicial economy. AlliedBarton asserts that earlier-filed duplicative litigation involving the same or substantially same claims on behalf of the same, or substantially, putative classes is pending in the Babeshkov, Dynaburksy, and Navarro actions. (Doc. 15-1, p. 1.)
B. Plaintiffs' Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Stay
Plaintiffs oppose AlliedBarton's Motion to Stay, arguing that although there are three actions currently pending against AlliedBarton for violations of California's wage-and-hour law, none of those actions include a claim under the FLSA for AlliedBarton's alleged failure to pay minimum wage and overtime. Plaintiffs' opposition underscores that, while the members of the other classes are limited to California, this action is brought on behalf of a nationwide class by virtue of the FLSA claim. Plaintiffs assert that staying this action will therefore damage not only Plaintiffs, but those non-California members of the putative FLSA collective who are uninvolved with any of the pending California-specific lawsuits. Moreover, Plaintiffs argue that, because this action is the only one brought by current employees, this is the only action in which injunctive relief is possible. Finally, Plaintiffs argue that AlliedBarton fails to establish that it will suffer any damage or inequity if required to defend this suit, which is required to apply judicial discretion to stay a case. (Doc. 17, p. 1.)
C. AlliedBarton's Reply to Plaintiffs' Opposition to its Motion to Stay
AlliedBarton contends Plaintiffs' primary challenge to its motion to stay is that Plaintiffs in this case allege a nationwide FLSA collective action claim, whereas the Navarro, Dynabursky, and Babeshkov actions only allege California state law claims. AlliedBarton contends a stay is not improper simply because Navarro, Dynabursky, and Babeshkov will not resolve the FLSA claim in this case. AlliedBarton notes that courts in the Ninth Circuit have held that partial stays are appropriate under both the first-to-file doctrine and the Colorado River doctrine, and that to the extent the duplicative litigation involves the same claims, those claims should be stayed.
AlliedBarton argues that a partial stay is appropriate in this case as to all of Plaintiffs' state law claims, because the state law claims are duplicative of the meal and rest break claims (and derivative claims) in the Dynabursky and Babeshkov actions, and of the minimum wage and overtime claims (and derivative claims) in the Navarro action. Further, AlliedBarton argues it would be wasteful of judicial and party resources to litigate these claims in multiple forums, and raises the possibility of conflicting rulings and overlapping notices to putative class members, which could cause confusion. AlliedBarton states that, at minimum, a partial stay as to Plaintiffs' state law claims is appropriate. AlliedBarton asserts Plaintiffs' FLSA claim should similarly be stayed, at least temporarily, pending approval of the settlement in the Navarro action, which contemplates certification of a class for settlement ...