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Guanzon v. Vixxo Corp.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 12, 2019

Vickie Guanzon, Plaintiff,
v.
Vixxo Corporation, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Dominic W. Lanza United Slates District Judge.

         This lawsuit involves a claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) for unpaid overtime. It is brought by Plaintiff Vickie Guanzon (“Plaintiff”) against Defendant Vixxo Corporation (“Vixxo”). The Court previously issued an order conditionally certifying Plaintiff to pursue a collective action on behalf of similarly-situated Vixxo employees. (Doc. 38.) Now that discovery has closed, Vixxo has moved to decertify the collective action. (Doc. 149.) As explained below, the motion will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         A. The Parties

         Vixxo is a “facilities maintenance” company whose clients include convenience stores, retail establishments, grocery stores, and restaurants. In a nutshell, these companies hire Vixxo to help maintain their buildings and equipment. If, for an example, a convenience store that was a Vixxo client experienced a broken Slurpee machine, the store would call Vixxo, which would, in turn, arrange for a third-party service provider to come to the store and fix the machine.

         Customer requests of this sort are usually routed to Vixxo employees known as Customer Service Representatives (“CSRs”). CSRs are trained to address such requests by selecting a service provider from a preapproved list and scheduling a service call. They are also trained to interact with customers and to follow-up on service requests to ensure the necessary repairs were completed. CSRs are not afforded much discretion when it comes to choosing which service provider to call and deciding how much money to authorize for a particular service call.

         Vixxo also employs a different category of employees called Team Leads. Plaintiff is such an employee. Team Leads typically deal with only one customer. As discussed below, the parties disagree as to how much discretion and independent decision-making authority Team Leads possess.

         Vixxo classifies all of its CSRs as “non-exempt” employees, in the parlance of the FLSA, and thus pays them for any overtime worked. In contrast, Vixxo classifies all of its Team Leads as “exempt” employees under the FLSA and doesn't pay them overtime.

         B. Procedural History

         In April 2017, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Vixxo alleging that she and other Team Leads were misclassified as exempt under the FLSA and wrongfully denied overtime wages. (Doc. 1.)

         In June 2017, Plaintiff moved for conditional certification to proceed as a collective action. (Doc. 19.)

         On January 3, 2018, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion in part, allowing Plaintiff to “pursue relief with any similarly situated individuals” who fit the following description:

All current and former “Customer Service Team Leads” (1) who were employed by Vixxo throughout the United States from three years prior to the issuance of the Notice to present, and (2) who were not paid overtime compensation for hours worked beyond forty (40) in a week at a rate not less than one and one-half (1.5) times their regular wage, and (3) who sign an agreement to join the class.

(Doc. 38 at 5-6.) The Court noted, however, that its conditional certification decision merely reflected a finding that Plaintiff had “met the lenient standard for notifying potential class members about opting into the class” and that “[w]hether the differences between Team leads are substantial enough to defeat collective action is a question better resolved at the second stage of analysis after a period of discovery.” (Id. at 4.)

         On October 31, 2018, this case was reassigned to the undersigned judge. (Doc. 127.)

         The opt-in period and discovery have now closed and a total of 37 Team Leads wish to proceed collectively as plaintiffs. During discovery, 12 of the 37 plaintiffs were deposed. (Doc. 149 at 7.)

         On April 12, 2018, the Court heard oral argument on the motion to decertify.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The FLSA provides that a party may bring a collective action on behalf of other “similarly situated” employees. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). The statute does not, however, define this crucial term. Until 2018, the Ninth Circuit also hadn't defined it.

         In Campbell v. City of Los Angeles, 903 F.3d 1090 (9th Cir. 2018), the Ninth Circuit filled this void. Noting that “neither the FLSA nor the case law of this circuit offers much express guidance on collective action practice, ” id. at 1108, the Campbell court addressed three issues that are relevant here: (1) “the proper procedure for determining whether the collective action mechanism is appropriate” (id. at 1108-10); (2) “the meaning of the statutory term ‘similarly situated'” (id. at ...


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