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Ridgeway v. Planet Pizza 2016, Inc.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

February 21, 2019

GEOFFREY RIDGEWAY and A. P., a minor, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
PLANET PIZZA 2016, INC., RAVINDER S. THIARA, and JOHN ROGAN Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR CONDITIONAL CERTIFICATION

          MARY GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiffs Geoffrey Ridgeway (Ridgeway) and A. P., a minor (collectively, Plaintiffs), bring this lawsuit against Defendants Planet Pizza 2016, Inc., (Planet Pizza) and its owners and operators, Ravinder S. Thiara (Thiara), and John Rogan (Rogan) (collectively, Defendants). Plaintiffs filed their complaint on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated current and former employees of Defendants complaining of violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201, and the South Carolina Payment of Wages Act (SCPWA), SC Code Ann. §41-10-10. They seek payment of what they claim to be unpaid overtime compensation, unpaid minimum wages and unpaid wages.

         The Court has federal-question jurisdiction over the FLSA claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and supplemental jurisdiction over the SCPWA claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for conditional certification as to their FLSA claims in accordance with 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Having considered Plaintiffs' motion, Defendants' response, Plaintiffs' reply, the record, and the relevant law, the Court will grant Plaintiffs' motion for conditional certification.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Ridgeway and A.P. are former employees of Defendants. They worked at Planet Pizza in Columbia, South Carolina in or around June 2017 through August 2017. According to Plaintiffs, they “and other similarly situated employees of the Defendants worked in a variety of positions for the Defendants, including manager, assistant manager, server, dishwasher, cook, maintenance, cashier, and hostess.” Complaint ¶ 1.

         Defendants allegedly violated Plaintiffs' rights “under both the FLSA and the SCPWA . . . [by] taking improper tip credits, taking portions of the employees' tips, failing to pay them wages as promised, failing to pay them wages when due, failing to pay a minimum wage, and failing to pay overtime compensation.” Id.

         After Plaintiffs filed their complaint and Defendants filed their answer, Plaintiffs filed this motion for conditional certification as to their FLSA claims.

         III. CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES

         Plaintiffs maintain all of Defendants' current and former employees are similarly situated to them; their proposed notice is fair and adequate; Plaintiffs should be allowed to mail their notice to all current and former employees of Defendants; those who receive the notice should be given ninety days to opt into the lawsuit, and Plaintiffs' proposed limited discovery is essential to ensure timely notice.

         Defendants counter Plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden of establishing they are similarly situated to the putative collective action group and that they are entitled to conduct limited pre-certification discovery to test Plaintiffs' assertion. Defendants also claim Plaintiffs' proposed notice is defective and Plaintiff's proposed ninety-day opt-in period is too long and should be reduced.

         IV. DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

         A. Gener ...


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