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Gibbs v. TWC Administration, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. California

January 3, 2020

LAURENCE GIBBS, an individual, MATTHEW LUTACK, an individual, BRENT QUICK, an individual, and JESSICA HUENEBERG, an individual, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
TWC ADMINISTRATION, LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company, and DOES 1 through 10, inclusive, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION

          Hon. Dana M. Sabraw, United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for class certification. Defendants filed a response, and Plaintiffs file a reply. For the reasons set forth, this motion is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         Time Warner provides video, high-speed data, and voice services to customers in the United States. Defendant Time Warner Cable (“TWC”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner, directs Time Warner's daily business practices. Plaintiffs Laurence Gibbs, Matthew Lutack, Brent Quick, and Jessica Hueneberg worked as customer service professionals (“CSRs”) and call center leads (“leads”) (collectively, “agents”) for Defendant Time Warner Cable (“TWC” or “Defendant”) in San Diego and Ontario, California. Brent Quick was employed as a CSR and Technical Support Professional from 2014 to 2017 (Quick Decl. ¶ 7). Matthew Lutack was employed as a CSR and Technical Support Professional from 2009 to 2016. (Lutack Decl. ¶ 7). Laurence Gibbs was employed from 2011 to 2014, working as CSR and Lead. (Gibbs Decl. ¶ 7). Jessica Hueneberg was employed from 2014 to 2016 as a CSR. (Hueneberg Decl. ¶ 6). In these customer service roles, Plaintiffs assisted customers over the phone regarding issues related to sales, billing, and technology support. (Memo re: MCC, 4).

         At all times relevant to this action, Plaintiffs were non-exempt employees. As such, Plaintiffs were entitled to scheduled meal and rest periods. TWC maintained the following policy regulating off-the-clock work, meal breaks, and rest breaks:

“All employees are to take paid rest breaks, 15 minutes for each four hours of work. Employees must also take an unpaid lunch break of 60 minutes during each shift of 6 hours or more. Employees are never to ‘punch out' and keep working (other wise [sic] known as ‘working off the clock'). Working off the clock is strictly prohibited.” (Realin Decl., ECF No. 66, Exh. 6).

         Despite this policy, Plaintiffs contend TWC's phone system required off-the-clock work at the beginning of their shifts. To field high volumes of customer service calls, Plaintiffs needed to take calls as soon as they clocked in. From at least 2013, agents used a phone system called “Avaya.” (MSJ, Exh. 6; King Decl. ¶ 3). This phone system is connected to Kronos, TWC's time-keeping system, so “when an agent logs into the Avaya phone system, he or she is simultaneously clocked into Kronos and on the clock.” (Id.). However, Plaintiffs allege they needed to load their programs before taking phone calls, and thus before clocking in. As such, Plaintiffs allege TWC required off-the-clock work because they spent time loading their programs before clocking in.

         In addition to off-the-clock claims, Plaintiffs Quick, Gibbs, and Hueneberg testified to missing meal breaks because their jobs involved fielding high volumes of customer service calls during their shifts. Ms. Hueneberg stated her supervisors told her she “was not allowed to end or transfer a call, ” so she could only go on her breaks after finishing phone calls. (Hueneberg Decl. ¶ 16). Similarly, Mr. Quick testified his meal periods would occasionally be delayed past the fifth or sixth hour as a result of extended customer phone calls or team meetings, and because supervisors told him to “wrap up the call and then go on your lunch.” (Realin Decl., Exh. 4, 179:9-14). Finally, Mr. Gibbs testified that his meal and rest breaks were delayed if customer escalations occurred. (Realin Decl., Exh. 5, at 71:12-15; 71:21-24; 73:16-74:1). Further, Plaintiffs Quick, Gibbs, and Hueneberg all testified to notifying supervisors of either missed meal or rest breaks. (Id., Exh. 4, 49:16-50:3; Exh. 5 at 66:17-67:3; Exh. 3 at 43:6-8, 43:13-15).

         On May 28, 2019, Plaintiffs filed the present motion for class certification. (ECF No. 54, “MCC”). Plaintiffs move for class certification on all current and former non-exempt employees of Defendant who worked in a call center as a Customer Service Professional, Customer Service and Billing Professional, Technical Support Professional, Technical Support and Billing Professional, and/or Call Center Lead, between April 20, 2013 and the date of class certification, who have not signed an arbitration agreement with Defendant as of the date the complaint was filed. (Id. at 1). Plaintiffs seek to certify a class of employees from Defendant's San Diego, CA and Ontario, CA offices. Defendant's corporate records indicate 536 putative class members in their San Diego office, and over 300 in their Ontario office. (Markham Decl., ¶ 15). Of this larger group, Plaintiffs move for class certification for the following individual sub-classes:

(1) the “off-the-clock subclass, ” including employees who were not paid for all hours worked, in any pay period within the class period;
(2) the “overtime subclass, ” including employees who were not provided with overtime pay during the class period, including only employees who worked more than eight hours in any given day and more than forty hours in any given week during the class period;
(3) the “meal break subclass, ” including employees who worked more than five hours and were not provided with uninterruptable meal periods of at least 30 minutes or delayed meal periods that began after the fifth hour of work;
(4) the “rest break subclass” of employees who were not provided with uninterruptable rest breaks of at least ten minutes for each four hours of work;
(5) the “wage statement subclass” including employees who were not provided with accurately itemized wage statements for all hours worked; and
(6) the “waiting time subclass” of employees who were not paid all wages due and owing at the time of ...

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