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Cunha v. Avis Budget Car Rental, LLC

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

October 26, 2016

FERNANDO CUNHA, individually and as representative of a proposed class, Plaintiff,
v.
AVIS BUDGET CAR RENTAL, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON MOTION TO CONDITIONALLY CERTIFY COLLECTIVE ACTION

          F. Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge

         This case involves claims by a former “damage manager” at Avis Budget Car Rental against his former employer for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and Massachusetts state law. Section 207 of FLSA requires employers to compensate all non-overtime exempt employees at not less than one and one-half times their regular rate for each hour worked in excess of forty hours per work-week. Only those who work in bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacities are exempt from that requirement. Plaintiff contends that Avis improperly classified all damage managers as overtime exempt and thus denied them overtime compensation to which they were entitled.

         In addition to private rights of action, § 216(b) of FLSA permits employees to bring collective actions on behalf of themselves and others who are similarly situated. Plaintive has moved to conditionally certify a collective action and to authorize that notice of this action be sent to the approximately thirty other current and recently terminated damage managers at Avis. For the following reasons, that motion will be granted.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         The facts are taken from the complaint and the exhibits submitted with the planitiff's motion to conditionally certify class.[1]

         Plaintiff Fernando Cunha was employed as a “damage manager” at an Avis Budget Car Rental location in Boston, Massachusetts from March 2004 until October 2012. (Compl. ¶ 7; Pl. Ex. 3). His primary responsibility was to “visually appraise damage to the vehicles that Avis rents out to customers, take photographs of the damage, write estimate reports, and then send those reports and photographs to Avis for evaluation and further instruction.” (Compl. ¶ 12). According to the complaint, damage managers have limited independent authority and do not exercise substantial discretion. (Compl. ¶ 13-17).

         According to the complaint, Cunha regularly worked more than forty hours per week. (Compl. ¶ 10). Avis classifies its damage managers as exempt from overtime compensation, and thus does not pay them overtime when they work over forty hours per week. (Compl. ¶ 9; Pl. Ex. 5 at 1).

         Avis employs approximately thirty damage managers at its various locations. (Pl. Ex. 3). There are five grade levels for damage managers; a manager's level depends on the revenues, fleet size, and annual value of damage at the Avis location at which he or she works, as well as that person's supervisory experience. (Pl. Ex. 5 at 3). Avis' job description for the damage manager position describes the essential duties and responsibilities of all damage managers, but notes that specific duties, responsibilities, and qualifications may vary based on location. (Pl. Ex. 5 at 3-4).

         B. Procedural Background

         On February 24, 2016, Cunha filed suit in state court alleging that Avis violated FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 207, by failing to pay its damage managers overtime compensation. The complaint also alleged state-law claims for failing to pay overtime wages in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151. § 1A and failing to pay earned wages in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, § 148. Plaintiff brought the state law claims in his individual capacity but, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), brought his FLSA claim on his own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated.

         Defendant removed the case to this Court on March 18, 2016. On August 8, 2016, plaintiff moved to conditionally certify a class and to authorize that notice be sent to the approximately thirty other current and recently terminated Avis damage managers.

         II. Analysis

         The Fair Labor Standards Act requires an employer to compensate their employees “not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which [the employee] is employed” for each hour worked in excess of forty hours per work-week unless those employees are exempt. 29 U.S.C. §§ 207(a)(1), 213(a)(1). Employees who serve in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity are exempt from the overtime requirement. Id. ยง 213(a)(1). Section 216(b) not only creates a private right of action for ...


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