United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
James Regan and Mason Underwood, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
City of Hanahan, Defendant.
ORDER AND OPINION
RICHARD MARK GERGEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Regan and Mason Underwood filed this class and collective
action on behalf of themselves and all others similarly
situated against Defendant City of Hanahan (the
"City"), alleging violations of the Fair Labor
Standards Act ("FLSA") 29 U.S.C. §§
201-219 and the South Carolina Payment of Wages Act, SC Code
Ann. § 41-10-10, et. seq. ("SCPWA"). Regan,
Underwood, and all of the filed Opt-Ins to date (together
"Plaintiffs") have filed a motion for Conditional
Class Certification and authorization of notice to putative
class members ("Notice") under Section 16(b) of the
FLSA. (Dkt. Nos. 46, 46-1.) For the reasons set forth below,
the court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Plaintiffs'
Motion for Conditional Certification and Notice.
City of Hanahan employed Plaintiffs as Firefighters and EMS
personnel. Plaintiffs allege that the City administered two
payment plans which violated the FLSA. The first payment
plan, which was in place through July 2015, allegedly
incorporated illegal sleep time and meal time deductions,
City implemented a new payment plan in July 2015. Under this
plan, Plaintiffs allege that the City did not compensate them
for overtime work as required under the FLSA because it
inappropriately took advantage of the overtime exception
available under 29 U.S.C. § 207(k) for employees
responsible for fire protection.
have asked the court to certify this matter as a collective
action for actual damages, liquidated damages, and
attorneys' fees and costs under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b)
and to define the following two subclasses:
Subclass One: For individuals employed within the
time frame of three years prior to their joining the lawsuit
through July 1, 2015: All individuals employed by Defendant
in its Fire Department, who were non-exempt employees (paid
an hourly wage) and who did not receive overtime compensation
of at least one and one-half (1.5) times their regular hourly
wage for all overtime hours;
Subclass Two: For individuals employed from July 1,
2015 to the present: All individuals employed by Defendant in
its Fire Department, but were assigned to EMS ("on the
box"), who were non-exempt employees (paid an hourly
wage) and who worked in excess of forty (40) hours in any
given work week, but who did not receive overtime
compensation of at least one and one-half (1.5) times their
regular hourly wage for all overtime hours.
(Dkt. No. 46-1 at 5.)
the FLSA, an action may be maintained by any one or more
employees against an employer on behalf of themselves and
"other employees similarly situated." 29 U.S.C.
§ 216(b). This Court follows a two-step approach to
decide whether employees are "similarly situated."
The first step is notice. If this Court determines that
notice should be given to potential members of the class, it
will conditionally certify the class to facilitate notice and
allow individuals to opt-in to the class action. Purdham
v. Fairfax Cly. Pub. Sck, 629 F.Supp.2d 544, 547 (E.D.
Va. 2009). Although Plaintiffs' burden at this stage is
not particularly onerous, conditional class certification is
not a rubber stamp: this Court will not facilitate notice
unless the facts and circumstances of the case indicate that
a class of employees exists that is made up of individuals
who are similarly situated as "victims of a common
policy or plan that violated the law, " Id. at
548 (quoting Choimbol v. Fairfield Resorts, Inc.,
475 F.Supp.2d 557, 563 (E.D.Va.2006) (citations omitted)).
The second step is final class certification. After discovery
is completed, the Court determines whether Plaintiffs have
met their burden of demonstrating that the class is similarly
situated. If so, the Court will then certify the class.
City has consented to the conditional certification of
Subclass One (Dkt. No. 51 at 2). The City has also consented
to appropriate Notice for Subclass One subject to the
City's minor, reasonable edits which ...