United States District Court, D. Nevada
JAMES C. MAHAN, District Judge.
Presently before the court is a motion to decertify filed by defendants Alan Waxler and Alan Waxler Group Charter Services LLC (hereinafter "AWG" or defendant). (Doc. # 174). The plaintiffs have responded with an opposition to the motion, (doc. # 188), and the defendants have replied, (doc. # 191).
The case arises out of the plaintiffs' allegations that the defendants failed to pay employees for all hours worked and to pay overtime as required by Nevada wage-and-hour laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The court initially denied the plaintiffs' request to certify a class or collective action for failure to demonstrate numerosity, (doc. # 94), but granted the plaintiffs' second request, (doc. # 103).
The court certified the following: (1) Class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23: all current and former drivers employed by the AWG defendants in the state of Nevada from 2003 to the present. (doc. # 112, Ex. A); and (2) FLSA collective action: all current and former drivers employed by the AWG defendants from 2003 to the present excluding those employees over whom the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation has power to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service rules pursuant to the Motor Carrier Act of 1935. Id.
II. Legal Standard
A. Decertification of Class Action Under Rule 23
The class-action device was designed as "an exception to the usual rule that litigation is conducted by and on behalf of the individual named parties only." Califano v. Yamasaki, 442 U.S. 682, 700-701 (1978). Class relief is "peculiarly appropriate" when the "issues involved are common to the class as a whole" and when they "turn on questions of law applicable in the same manner to each member of the class." Id. at 701. In such cases, "the class-action device saves the resources of both the courts and the parties by permitting an issue potentially affecting every [class member] to be litigated in an economical fashion under Rule 23." Id.
"[T]he prerequisites of numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation" specified in Rule 23(a), effectively "limit the class claims to those fairly encompassed by the named plaintiff's claims." General Telephone Co. of Northwest v. EEOC, 446 U.S. 318, 330 (1980). "This does not mean merely that they have all suffered a violation of the same provision of law." Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S.Ct. 2541, 2551 (2011). In order to certify, "a class representative must be part of the class and possess the same interest and suffer the same injury' as the class members." East Texas Motor Freight System, Inc. v. Rodriguez, 431 U.S. 395, 403 (1977).
B. Decertification of Collective Action Under FLSA
The FLSA was created to provide a uniform national policy of guaranteeing compensation for all work or employment covered by the act. Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight Sys., Inc., 450 U.S. 728, 741 (1981). The FLSA grants individual employees broad access to the courts and permits an action to recover minimum wages, overtime compensation, liquidated damages, or injunctive relief. Id. at 740. Under the FLSA, an employee may initiate a collective action on behalf of himself or herself and other similarly situated people. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Court-supervised notice of pendency of § 216(b) actions "serves the legitimate goal of avoiding a multiplicity of duplicative suits and setting cutoff dates to expedite disposition of the action." Hoffman-La Roche, Inc. v. Sperling, 493 U.S. 165, 172 (1989).
There is a two-tiered approach to certifying a collective action under the FLSA. The first tier is the "notice stage" which requires only a "modest factual showing" and "the bar is quite low... typically result[ing] in conditional class certification." Small v. Univ. Med. Ctr. of S. Nev., no. 2:13cv-00298-APG-PAL, 2013 WL 3043454, at *1 (D. Nev. June 14, 2013). In the notice stage, the essential question is whether employees are sufficiently similarly situated, so that notice should be sent to prospective plaintiff[s]." Id. This "modest factual showing" standard is used because, at the initial stage of a collective action, the court has only minimal evidence to make its determination as to class member certification. Fetrow-Fix v. Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., no. 2:10-cv-00560-RLH-PAL, 2011 WL 6938594, at *3 (D. Nev. Dec. 30, 2011).
During the "second stage" of the analysis, a court reviews several factors in determining whether to decertify a conditionally certified collective action, including "(1) disparate factual and employment settings of the individual plaintiffs; (2) the various defenses available to defendant which appear to be individual to each plaintiff; (3) fairness and procedural considerations; and (4) whether plaintiffs ...