United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Columbus Division
J. ABRAMS, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court are Plaintiffs' Complaint, Doc. 1,
Plaintiffs' Motion for Conditional Certification of
Collective Action and Issuance of Court-Approved Notice, Doc.
13, and Defendants' Motion for Leave to File Excess Pages
for Defendants' Response. Doc. 17. For the reasons set
forth below, Plaintiffs' Motion, Doc. 13, and
Defendants' Motion, Doc. 17, are
Grayhawk Homes Inc. and David Erickson are residential
homebuilders. Doc. 1 at 1. Erickson is Grayhawk's CEO.
Id. Prior to this action, Plaintiffs worked for
Grayhawk and Erickson as construction superintendents or
assistant superintendents. Id. On August 3, 2017,
Plaintiffs filed a Complaint on behalf of themselves and all
other similarly-situated individuals against Defendants for
alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938
(FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. Doc. 1 at 1.
Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that, during the past three
years, Plaintiffs and those similarly situated: (1) had the
position of construction superintendent or assistant
superintendent while employed by Defendants; (2) worked in
that capacity at Defendants' insistence, request, or
allowance for more than forty hours per week; (3) were
misclassified as exempt under the FLSA; and (4) were not paid
time-and-a-half for hours worked above forty hours per week
in violation of the overtime compensation provision of the
FLSA. Id. at 2, 8; see 29 U.S.C. §
November 22, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their Motion for
Conditional Certification of Collective Action and Issuance
of Court-Approved Notice. Doc. 13. Defendants timely filed a
Response, and Plaintiffs timely filed a Reply. Docs. 18 &
23. Plaintiffs' Motion is now ripe for review. M.D. Ga.
FLSA's Overtime Provision “requires employers to
pay one and one-half times the employee's regular rate of
pay for hours worked in excess of forty hours per
week.” Prickett v. DeKalb Cty., 349 F.3d 1294,
1296 (11th Cir. 2003); see 29 U.S.C. §
207(a)(1). “Employers who violate these provisions of
the FLSA are ‘liable to the employee or employees
affected in the amount of their unpaid overtime compensation
and in an additional equal amount as liquidated damages.'
29 U.S.C. § 216(b).” Id. (punctuation
omitted). “An [opt-in] FLSA action for overtime pay can
be maintained by ‘one or more employees for and in
behalf of himself or themselves and other employees similarly
situated.' 29 U.S.C. § 216(b).” Id.
“Congress' purpose in authorizing § 216(b)
class actions was to avoid multiple lawsuits where numerous
employees have allegedly been harmed by a claimed violation
or violations of the FLSA by a particular employer.”
Id. at 1297.
Eleventh Circuit applies a two-stage process to FLSA
collective action. The first stage in determining whether a
collective action should be certified is the notice stage
(also referred to as the conditional certification stage) at
which time the court determines whether other similarly
situated employees should be notified.” Jackson v.
Fed. Nat'l Mortg. Ass'n, 181 F.Supp.3d 1044,
1050 (N.D.Ga. 2016) (citations omitted) (citing Morgan v.
Family Dollar Stores, Inc., 551 F.3d 1233, 1260 (11th
Cir. 2008)). “The second stage of the certification
process is typically precipitated by a motion for
decertification by the defendant usually filed after
discovery is largely complete and the matter is ready for
the initial stage the district court's decision to
certify a class is based primarily on pleadings and
affidavits.” Anderson v. Cagle's, Inc.,
488 F.3d 945, 953 (11th Cir. 2007). “A plaintiff has
the burden of showing a ‘reasonable basis' for his
claim that there are other similarly situated
employees.” Morgan, 551 F.3d at 1260.
“[A]t the initial stage, courts apply a fairly lenient
standard for determining whether the plaintiffs are truly
similarly situated.” Anderson, 488 F.3d at 953
(punctuation omitted). Thus, “[b]efore granting
conditional certification, the court should determine: (1)
whether employees sought to be included in the putative class
are similarly situated with respect to their job requirements
and pay provisions; and (2) whether there are other employees
who wish to opt-in to the action.” Jackson,
181 F.Supp.3d at 1052.
Similarly Situated Employees
first question is whether the potential opt-in plaintiffs are
similarly situated “with respect to their job
requirements and pay provisions.” Jackson, 181
F.Supp.3d at 1052. Plaintiffs have made the requisite showing
at this stage. Plaintiff proposes a relatively narrow class,
consisting of two types of employees-construction
superintendents and assistant superintendents, who: (1) are
all allegedly misclassified as exempt and were not paid
time-and-a-half for hours worked above forty hours per week;
(2) worked for Defendants within a certain window of time;
and (3) all have similar job duties and manual labor duties
alleged to be outside of their roles as exempt employees.
See Docs. 1; 13-2 at 11-13; 13-3 to 13-9. Plaintiffs
have supported the existence of the class with the
declarations of the six named Plaintiffs, see Docs.
1; 13-3 to 13-9, and Defendants have admitted that they did
not pay superintendents time-and-a-half for hours worked
above forty hours per week. See Doc. 18 at 2, 6.
This is enough to satisfy this prong of the conditional
object to the certification of the class, arguing primarily
that the positions that the named and unnamed Plaintiffs
held-construction superintendents and assistant
superintendents-were exempt positions under the FLSA.
See Doc. 18 at 6-23. These arguments go to the
merits of Plaintiffs' FLSA claims, not to whether the
potential plaintiffs are similarly situated.