United States District Court, S.D. California
VLADIMIR AMARAUT, KATHERINE ALMONTE, CORBIN BELTZ, KRISTOPHER FOX, DYLAN MCCOLLUM, and QUINN MYERS, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
SPRINT/UNITED MANAGEMENT COMPANY, Defendant.
WILLIAM Q. HAYES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter before the Court is the Joint Motion to Conditionally
Certify the Collective and Facilitate Notice Pursuant to 29
U.S.C. § 216(b). (ECF No. 46).
February 28, 2019, Plaintiff Vladimir Amaraut initiated this
action by filing a Collective and Class Action Complaint
against Defendant Sprint/United Management Company, bringing
claims pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et
seq., and California state wage and hour laws. (ECF No.
1). On March 7, 2019, September 11, 2019, September 12, 2019,
September 13, 2019, and September 17, 2019, Plaintiff filed
Notices of Filing Consents to Join. (ECF Nos. 3, 33-35, 37).
On November 1, 2019, Plaintiffs Vladimir Amaraut, Katherine
Almonte, Corbin Beltz, Kristopher Fox, Dylan McCollum, and
Quinn Myers filed an Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 45-1,
Exhibit 1). Plaintiffs allege that Defendant violated the
FLSA by failing to compensate Plaintiff and the putative
Collective for all hours worked and failing to pay the
legally mandated overtime premium for such work and/or
minimum wage. On November 1, 2019, the Parties filed a Joint
Motion to Conditionally Certify the Collective and Facilitate
Notice Pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). (ECF No. 46).
216(b) of the FLSA provides a private cause of action against
an employer “by any one or more employees for and on
behalf of himself or themselves and other employees similarly
situated.” Collective actions under the FLSA require
putative class members to opt in to the case. See 29
U.S.C. § 216(b) (“No employee shall be a party
plaintiff to any such action unless he gives his consent in
writing to become such a party and such consent is filed in
the court in which such action is brought.”). To
certify a putative collective action under § 216(b),
employees bringing the action must demonstrate they are
similarly situated to the proposed class members. 29 U.S.C.
§ 216(b). Whether a suit may be maintained as a FLSA
collective action is within the discretion of the court.
See Leuthold v. Destination Am., 224 F.R.D. 462, 466
(N.D. Cal. 2004).
Ninth Circuit has not formally prescribed the standard for
managing FLSA collective actions, but most courts follow a
two-step approach. See e.g., Leuthold, 224
F.R.D. at 466; Edwards v. City of Long Beach, 467
F.Supp.2d 986, 990 (C.D. Cal. 2006); Daniels v.
Aeropostale W., Inc., No. C 12-05755 WHA, 2013 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 59514, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 24, 2013);
Ellerd v. Cty. of L.A., No. CV 08-4289 CAS FFMX,
2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136851, at *3 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 9, 2009).
At the first step, known as “conditional certification,
” the court determines whether notice of the action
should be issued to potential opt-in plaintiffs and whether
the action should proceed as a collective action. See
Daniels, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59514, at *2. The
plaintiff bears the burden of showing that plaintiff and
members of the proposed collective action are
“similarly situated.” Id. The standard
for certification at this stage is “a lenient one that
typically results in certification.” Graham v.
Overland Sols, Inc., No. 10-CV-672 BEN BLM, 2011 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 49304, at *2 (S.D. Cal. May 9, 2011).
“Courts require nothing more than substantial
allegations that the putative class members were together the
victims of a single decision, policy, or plan.”
Id. (quotation omitted). “All that need be
shown by the plaintiff is that some identifiable factual or
legal nexus binds together the various claims of the class
members in a way that hearing the claims together promotes
judicial efficiency and comports with the broad remedial
policies underlying the FLSA.” Id.
“[T]he Court notes that it should not consider the
merits of Plaintiffs' claims at the conditional
certification stage.” Velasquez v. HSBC Fin.
Corp., 266 F.R.D. 424, 432 (N.D. Cal. 2010)
second stage of the analysis usually occurs at the close of
discovery upon the filing of a defendant's motion for
decertification. Lewis v. Wells Fargo Co., 669
F.Supp.2d 1124, 1127 (N.D. Cal. 2009). This stage utilizes a
more stringent standard than the first stage. Id.
case, the Parties jointly seek conditional certification of
the following Collective:
All current and former non-exempt employees of Defendant
working in Defendant's retail establishments throughout
the United States during the time period from three years
prior to the filing of the complaint until resolution of this
allege that “Plaintiffs' FLSA claims are similar to
the claims of the members of the Collective.” (ECF No.
45-1 ¶ 54). Plaintiffs allege that “[t]he members
of the FLSA Collective are similarly situated, as they have
substantially similar job duties and requirements and are
subject to a common policy, practice, or plan that requires
them to perform work ‘off-the-clock' and without
compensation in violation of the FLSA.” (Id.
¶ 55). Plaintiffs alleges that they are:
former non-exempt employees of Defendant, who worked in
positions including, but not limited to, Retail Consultant
and Lead Retail Consultant. Plaintiffs were paid
approximately $10 to $15 per hour, plus potential commissions
that they could earn based on sales. Plaintiffs' duties
included, but were not limited to, selling and setting up
cellular phones, devices, accessories, and related service
plans, assisting customers with phone and service issues,
troubleshooting equipment issues, making repairs to broken
phones and devices, processing insurance claims, and
monitoring customer traffic within the store.
(Id. ¶ 26). Plaintiffs allege that:
[s]imilar to Plaintiffs, the putative Collective and Class
Members are current and former non-exempt employees who work,
or have worked, at Defendant's retail stores. As Sprint
employees, putative Collective and Class Members are expected
to sell Sprint's products and services to customers in
Sprint's retail locations. Plaintiffs are informed,
believe, and thereon allege that the policies and practices
of Defendant have at all relevant times been similar ...