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Kinder v. Mac Manufacturing Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

July 23, 2018

TRAVIS L. KINDER, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
MAC MANUFACTURING INC. et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND [RESOLVING ECF NO. 11]

          BENITA Y. PEARSON JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Travis L. Kinder's Motion for Conditional Certification, Expedited Opt-in Discovery, and Court-Supervised Notice to Potential Opt-In Plaintiffs. ECF No. 11. Defendants MAC Manufacturing Inc. and MAC Trailer Enterprises, Inc. (collectively “Defendants”) have filed a response in opposition. ECF No. 17. Plaintiff replied. ECF No. 21-3. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motion (ECF No. 11) is granted.

         I. Background

         Defendants are corporations that manufacture trailers for the trucking industry. ECF No. 17 at PageID#:133. Plaintiff was employed by Defendants as a welder between January 30, 2017 and June 26, 2017. ECF No. 3 at PageID#: 24.

         Plaintiff filed this action, alleging that Defendants failed to compensate him and other similarly situated employees for all time worked and overtime wages, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 219, and the Ohio Minimum Fair Wages Standard Act, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4111.03. Id. at PageID#: 22 23, ¶¶ 1 2. Plaintiff claims that Defendants required him and other hourly non-exempt employees to perform work before their scheduled start time and after their scheduled stop time, which included the following duties: changing into and out of personal protective equipment, obtaining and putting away tools necessary to perform their job, logging into Defendant MAC Trailer's computer systems to obtain work, performing production work, cleaning up production areas, and walking to and from the assigned area of the production floor. Id. at PageID#: 24 25. Plaintiff asserts that, because Defendants did not compensate him and other similarly situated employees for the work completed before and after scheduled shifts at a rate of one and one-half times their regular pay, Defendants violated the FLSA. Id. at PageID#: 31.

         Plaintiff now moves the Court to authorize him to notify similarly situated employees of this lawsuit pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). ECF No. 11.

         II. Law & Analysis

         A. Conditional Class Certification

         Under the FLSA, one or more employees may bring an action against an employer “for and in behalf of himself and other employees similarly situated.” Albright v. Gen. Die Casters, Inc., No. 5:10-cv-480, 2010 WL 6121689, at *1 (N.D. Ohio July 14, 2010) (citing 29 U.S.C. § 216(b)) (internal quotations omitted). “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.” Id.

         A plaintiff alleging a FLSA violation on behalf of other employees similarly situated must meet two requirements: (1) the plaintiffs must actually be similarly situated; and (2) all plaintiffs must signal in writing their affirmative consent to participate in the action. Comer v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 454 F.3d 544, 54546 (6th Cir. 2006). Unlike a Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 23 representative action, in which a putative plaintiff has the opportunity to opt-out of the class, plaintiffs brought into a collective action under the FLSA must affirmatively opt-in to the class. Id.

         Courts generally take a two-stage approach to collective actions. Id. at 546. According to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, “[t]he first takes place at the beginning of discovery[] [and] [t]he second occurs after all the opt-in forms have been received and discovery has concluded.” Id. (citing Goldman v. RadioShack Corp., 2003 WL 21250571, at *6 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 17, 2003)). When a plaintiff is seeking conditional certification at the beginning of discovery, which is also known as the notice stage, a plaintiff must make a “modest factual showing” and must show “only that his position is similar, not identical, to the positions held by the putative class members.” Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 454 F.3d at 546 47. The modest factual showing must also be sufficient to “demonstrate that they and potential plaintiffs together were victims of a common policy or plan that violated the law.” Id. (quoting Roebuck v. Hudson Valley Farms, Inc., 239 F.Supp.2d 234, 238 (N.D.N.Y 2002)).

         In the instant case, Plaintiff seeks to certify the following class:

All former and current welders of Defendants MAC Trailer Enterprises, Inc. and MAC Manufacturing Inc. between July ...

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