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Dyse v. Healthall Consulting LLC

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 7, 2020

HEATHER DYSE, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated Plaintiff,
v.
HEALTHALL CONSULTING, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Honorable Patti B. Saris United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Heather Dyse brings this action against HealthAll Consulting, LLC under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. (“FLSA”) seeking payment of unpaid overtime wages. She alleges she was misclassified as an independent contractor. Dyse has moved to conditionally certify a nationwide collective action under the FLSA (Dkt. No. 28). After hearing, the Court ALLOWS IN PART Dyse's motion for conditional certification and issuance of a notice.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On April 12, 2019, Dyse filed a collective action complaint seeking payment of unpaid overtime wages. HealthAll moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and Dyse opposed. In August 2019, Dyse moved for Conditional Certification. HealthAll opposed. Dyse further filed a motion for an emergency protective order requesting that HealthAll be prohibited from distributing a contract addendum to its consultants which required them to assure HealthAll that they were not and would not be a part of any lawsuit against HealthAll regarding the payment of overtime wages.

         The Court held a hearing on December 6, 2019 in which it denied HealthAll's motion to dismiss and granted Dyse's motion for an emergency protective order.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standard

         There are three basic elements to an FLSA claim: (1) the plaintiffs were employed by the defendant; (2) the work involved interstate activity; and (3) the plaintiffs performed work for which they were under-compensated. Manning v. Bos. Med. Ctr. Corp., 725 F.3d 34, 43 (1st Cir. 2013). A claim for unpaid overtime wages must also “demonstrate that the plaintiffs were employed ‘for a workweek longer than forty hours' and that any hours worked in excess of forty per week were not compensated ‘at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate.'” Id. (quoting 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1)).

         The FLSA allows employees to band together to enforce their rights by initiating or joining a collective action. See Cunha v. Avis Budget Car Rental, LLC, 221 F.Supp.3d 178, 181 (D. Mass. 2016); see also U.S.C. § 216(b). Unlike a class action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, collective actions under the FLSA “require similarly situated employees to affirmatively opt-in and be bound by any judgment.” Id. (quotation omitted). To facilitate this opt-in mechanism, courts have developed a certification process for plaintiffs seeking to bring FLSA collective actions. See Kane v. Gage Merch. Servs., Inc., 138 F.Supp.2d 212, 214 (D. Mass. 2001) (citing Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. v. Sperling, 493 U.S. 165, 169 (1989)). Although the First Circuit has not prescribed a specific certification procedure, “most courts-including most district courts in this circuit-follow a two-step approach....” Cunha, 221 F.Supp.3d at 182 (citing Trezvant v. Fidelity Emp'r Servs. Corp., 434 F.Supp.2d 40, 43 (D. Mass. 2006)).

         First, “the court makes an initial determination of whether the potential class should receive notice of the pending action.” Trezvant, 434 F.Supp.2d at 42. “[T]his determination is made using a fairly lenient standard, which typically results in conditional certification.” Id. at 43. The plaintiff must show only “that there is ‘some factual support'-as opposed to mere allegations-that the potential plaintiffs are similarly situated.” Cunha, 221 F.Supp.3d at 182 (quotation omitted).

         Second, “after discovery is complete, the court makes a final ‘similarly situated' determination.” Trezvant, 434 F.Supp.2d at 42. Pertinent factors at this stage include: (1) any disparate factual and employment settings-for example, whether plaintiffs were employed in the same corporate department, division, and location; (2) the various defenses available to the defendant which appear to be individual to each plaintiff; and (3) fairness and procedural considerations. Id. at 45 (citations omitted). This case is only at the first step.

         II. ...


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