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Cardoso v. Pick A Part LLC

United States District Court, D. Arizona

August 21, 2019

Mario Cardoso, Plaintiff,
v.
Pick A Part LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Honorable Steven P. Logan United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Mario Cardoso's (the “Plaintiff”) Motion for Conditional Certification (the “Motion”). (Doc. 14) The Motion was fully briefed on March 27, 2019. (Docs. 18, 23) Because it would not assist in resolution of the instant issues, the Court finds the pending motion is suitable for decision without oral argument. See LRCiv. 7.2(f); Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b); Partridge v. Reich, 141 F.3d 920, 926 (9th Cir. 1998). The Court's ruling is as follows.

         I. Background

         The Plaintiff worked as a “yard laborer” employee of Pick A Part, LLC. (Doc. 1 at 3) Pick A Part, LLC is owned by Rush Auto Recyclers, Inc. (together, the “Defendants”). (Doc. 18 at 2) The Plaintiff alleges that he and other current and former employees were not paid one-and-one-half times their regular rates of pay for overtime hours worked. (Doc. 1 at 2) The Plaintiff filed a complaint (the “Complaint”) against the Defendants, and other parties, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). (Doc. 1 at 2) The Plaintiff filed the Motion seeking conditional class certification. (Doc. 14)

         II. Legal Standard

         The FLSA prohibits covered employers from employing any employees “for a workweek longer than forty hours unless such employee receives compensation for his employment in excess of the hours above specified at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed.” 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1); Scales v. Info. Strategy Design Inc., 356 F.Supp.3d 881, 884-85 (D. Ariz. 2018). “Any employer who violates the provisions of . . . section 207 . . . shall be liable to the employee or employees affected in the amount of . . . their unpaid overtime compensation . . .”. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). A collective action to recover these damages may be brought “against any employer . . . by any one or more employees for and in behalf of himself or themselves and other employees similarly situated.” Id. Employees not named in the complaint who wish to join the action must give their consent in writing to the court in which the action is brought. Scales, 356 F.Supp.3d 885.

         “Section 216(b) does not define ‘similarly situated', and the Ninth Circuit has not construed the term.” Colson v. Avnet, Inc., 687 F.Supp.2d 914, 925 (D. Ariz. 2010). “[D]istrict courts within the Ninth Circuit generally follow the two-tiered or two-step approach for making a collective action determination.” Id. Under this approach,

“the court determines, on an ad hoc case-by-case basis, whether plaintiffs are similarly situated. This requires the court to first make an initial ‘notice stage' determination of whether plaintiffs are similarly situated. At this first stage, the court requires nothing more than substantial allegations that the putative class members were together the victims of a single decision, policy, or plan. If a plaintiff can survive this hurdle, the district court will conditionally certify the proposed class and the lawsuit will proceed to a period of notification, which will permit the potential class members to opt-into the lawsuit. Once the notification period ends, the Court moves on to the second step of the certification process. At the second step, in response to a motion to decertify the class filed by the defendant, the court makes yet another determination whether the proposed class members are similarly situated; this time, however, the court utilizes a much stricter standard to scrutinize the nature of the claims.”

Colson, 687 F.Supp.2d at 925.

         Conditional certification is not automatic, and a plaintiff must show 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.” Colson, 687 F.Supp.2d at 925; Wertheim v. Arizona, 1993 WL 603552, at 1 (D. Ariz. Sept. 30, 1993). The allegations need not be “strong [n]or conclusive;” the plaintiff need only show “that there is some factual nexus which binds the named plaintiffs and the potential class members together as victims of a particular alleged policy or practice.” Id. at 926. “Plaintiffs need only show that their positions are similar, not identical, to the positions held by the putative class members.” Juvera v. Salcido, 294 F. R. D. 516, 520 (D. Ariz. 2013). In other words, “[t]he court must only be satisfied that a reasonable basis exists for the plaintiffs' claims or class wide injury.” Bollinger v. Residential Capital, LLC, 761 F.Supp.2d 1114, 1119 (W. D. Wash. 2011).

         Whether a collective action should be conditionally certified ultimately is within the discretion of the court. Colson v. Avnet, Inc., 687 F.Supp.2d 914, 925 (D. Ariz. 2010). The court should not review the underlying merits of the action, nor should it “resolve factual disputes . . . at the preliminary certification stage of an FLSA collective action.” Id. at 926. “The court's determination at this first step is based primarily on the pleadings and any affidavits submitted by the parties.” Kesley v. Entm't U.S.A. Inc., 67 F.Supp.3d 1061, 1065 (D. Ariz. 2014).

         III. Analysis

         A. Certification

         The Plaintiff seeks conditional certification of a class of “all persons who have worked or who are working as yard laborers for Defendants at any time during the three years preceding” this lawsuit. (Doc. 14 at 1) The Defendants do not generally object to the conditional class certification requested in the Motion. (Doc. 18 at 1) However, the Defendants ...


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