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Angeles v. U.S. Airways, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

February 13, 2017

JOSEPH TIMBANG ANGELES, NOE LASTIMOSA, on behalf of themselves and on behlaf of others similarly situated, and the general public, Plaintiffs
v.
US AIRWAYS, INC., and DOES 1 through 50, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DECERTIFY GRACE PERIOD SUBCLASSES

          CHARLES R. BREYER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendant U.S. Airways moves to decertify Plaintiff Fleet Service Agents' ("FSAs") Grace Period subclasses. And for good reason. Post-certification discovery has revealed that these subclasses fall well short of the bar for commonality under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23(a), let alone that for predominance under Rule 23(b)(3).[1]

          I. BACKGROUND

          A. Factual Background

         FSAs are airport support staff who, among other things, handle bags, mail, and cargo, as well as waive in, push back, and clean aircraft. Howard Decl. (dkt. 108-1) Ex. 3 (Henson Depo.) at 14:20-15:3, Ex. 6 (Kortz Depo.) at 35:10-19, Ex. 5 (Massey Depo.) at 25:24-26:2, 37:22-38:11, Ex. 4 (Roberts Depo.) at 12:15-22, Ex. 2 (Sausa Depo.) at 25:8-26:1. Under their collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Airways, FSAs obtain their work schedules through a bidding process that occurs at least three times per year. Decl. Howard Ex. 11 (Soto Decl.) ¶ 5, Ex. 8 (Crowl Depo.) at 21:13-22:6, 32:22-33:16, 34:21-35:9, Ex. 7 (Kullar Depo.) at 39:13-25. Each station establishes its own work schedule or “bid, ” which corresponds to the station's anticipated flight schedule for the bid period. See KohSweeney Decl. (dkt. 106-1) Ex. 1 (Harbinson Decl.) ¶ 6.

         FSAs work as part of a team and may be assigned one of several tasks such as cleaning lavatories, loading or unloading bags, and pushing back aircraft. See Howard Decl. Ex. 5 (Massey Depo.) at 38:19-21, Ex. 8 (Crowl Depo.) at 42:4-1, 48:16-22. Each team has a Fleet Service Lead Agent (“Lead”). Decl. Howard Ex. 7 (Kullar Depo.) at 29:8-14, Ex. 8 (Crowl Depo.) at 42:1-11. The Leads are part of the same bargaining unit and typically assign FSAs their tasks. KohSweeney Decl. Ex. 1 at 1A Art. 4 § D; Howard Decl. Ex. 6 (Kortz Depo.) at 27:8-22, Ex. 7 (Kullar Depo.) at 29:8-14, Ex. 8 (Crowl Depo.) at 42:1-4, 42:12-20, 45:20-46:4.

         Managers oversee all FSAs, including Leads, and often work in offices tucked away from where FSAs perform their duties. Howard Decl. Ex. 6 (Kortz Depo.) at 30:7-20, Ex. 7 (Kullar Depo.) at 15:17-16:19, 27:22-28:9, Ex. 1 (Brown Depo.) at 91:13-16. There is not always a manager on duty. Howard Decl. Ex. 6 (Kortz Depo.) at 30:7-20, Ex. 7 (Kullar Depo.) at 15:17-16:19, 27:22-28:9, Ex. 1 (Brown Depo.) at 91:13-16.

         In 2008, U.S. Airways implemented timekeeping software called “Workbrain.” Howard Decl. Ex. 11 (Soto Decl.) ¶ 7. FSAs clock in and out electronically using the software, which tracks their time and pay. Howard Decl. Ex. 9 (Vail Depo.) at 25:9-17, 38:5-39:23. Each FSA's schedule is programed into Workbrain for each bid period so that if an FSA is clocked-in during their scheduled time, Workbrain automatically logs that period as paid time. Howard Decl. Ex. 11 (Soto Decl.) ¶ 8. Conversely, when an FSA clocks in before or remains clocked-in after their scheduled time, Workbrain logs this time as unpaid time.[2] See Howard Decl. Ex. 11 (Soto Decl.) ¶ 8, Ex. 9 (Vail Depo.) at 50:15-52:9, 55:24-56:12. Many FSAs clock in before their scheduled shift or remain clocked-in after their shift has ended; Workbrain automatically logs this time as unpaid, regardless of whether they are working or engaging in personal activities. Howard Decl. Ex. 1 (Brown Depo.) at 91:17-20, Ex. 2 (Sausa Depo.) at 110:16-18, 112:5-13, Ex. 3 (Henson Depo.) at 62:8-63:25. The FSAs allege that they were not paid for work performed during these Grace Periods.

         B. Procedural History

         The FSAs added the “Grace Period” claim to their Third Amended Complaint. See TAC (dkt. 52). The FSA plaintiffs then moved for class certification, which the Court granted. See Order Granting Mot. to Cert. (dkt. 75). Although class certification was a “close question” at the time, the Court held that “enough [had] been alleged” to warrant discovery but noted that it would later review class certification “depending on what the evidence is.” H'rg Tr. (dkt. 78) at 2:16-3:3. In light of the post-certification discovery, U.S. Airways moves to decertify subclasses number 2 and 3-the “Grace Period” subclasses.

         1. The Grace Period Subclasses

         Class members are made up of all former U.S. Airways FSAs “who worked as Fleet Service Agents in the State of California at any time on or after June 22, 2008, until the date of certification and who are members of one or more of Plaintiffs' subclasses.” Opp'n to Mot. to Decertify at 3-4 n.1 (dkt. 109). Subclass 2 is made up of FSAs who, while clocked-in, engaged in pre-shift work and are owed compensation for hours worked. Mot. for Class Certification at 1-2 (dkt. 64). Subclass 3 is made up of FSAs who, while clocked-in, engaged in post-shift work and are owed compensation for hours worked. Id. Together, these are the Grace Period subclasses. Id.

         2. Post-Certification Discovery

         Post-certification discovery has revealed that each California station has station-specific policies and practices for tracking Grace Period work for which an FSA should have been paid. Howard Decl. Ex. 11 (Soto Decl.) ¶¶ 8-9, Ex. 10 (Vail Decl.) ¶ 6, Ex. 9 (Vail Depo.) at 18:12-19:22, 51:6-51:23. Most stations require FSAs to record their additional work time on paper forms, but the policies and procedures for recording additional work time vary across stations. Howard Decl. Ex. 10 (Vail Decl.) ¶ 6. Leads usually verify paper forms but sometimes complete the forms themselves on behalf of FSAs. Howard Decl. Ex. 10 (Vail Decl.) ¶ 6, Ex. 3 (Henson Depo.) at 89:7-22, Ex. 26 (Townsend Decl.) ¶ 9, Ex. 19 ...


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