United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
Patrick Weckesser, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
Knight Enterprises S.E., LLC, Defendant.
ORDER AND OPINION
RICHARD M. GERGET, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for
Final FLSA Certification (Dkt. No. 99). For the reasons
set forth below, the Court grants the motion.
Patrick Weckesser, a cable installation technician, filed
this class and collective action on behalf of himself and all
others similarly situated against Defendant Knight
Enterprises S.E., LLC, alleging violations of the Fair Labor
Standards Act ("FLSA") and the South Carolina
Payment of Wages Act. (Dkt. No. 1.) The Court granted
conditional class certification on August 27, 2018. (Dkt. No.
36.) Thirty-three individuals have joined the case as opt-in
plaintiffs, for a total of thirty-four plaintiffs. (See Dkt.
Nos. 5, 8, 14, 46 - 61.)
Plaintiffs allege that they and all other similarly situated
cable installation technicians who worked for the Defendant
were misclassified as independent contractors and deprived of
overtime and minimum wage in violation of federal law.
Plaintiffs were all hired as independent contractors to
perform cable installation work, and therefore were not paid
for any hours worked overtime. (Dkt. Nos. 1 at ¶¶
26, 32; 6-2; 34-1 at ¶ 5; 99-2 at 3 - 4; 99-3 at 3, 9;
99-8 at 8.) Each Plaintiff allege that they provided the same
cable installation services for Time Warner customers, and
all performed their work under policies, and a schedule, set
by Defendant. (Dkt. Nos. 99-2 at 3; 99-3 at 4.) Each
Plaintiff was allegedly required to perform the jobs assigned
to them by Defendant Knight, were required to use certain
equipment, such as computer programs, provided by Defendant,
were required to wear Knight uniform, were required to have a
Knight logo on their truck, and were not able to work for
other companies. (Dkt. Nos. 99-3 at 3, 11; 99-4 at 8 - 9;
99-5 at 4; 99-6 at 16; 99-11 at 6, 8; 99-12 at 4.) Most
notably, each Plaintiff were required to sign the same
Independent Contractor Services Agreement, which declared
that each Plaintiff was an independent contractor and not an
employee. (Dkt. No. 6-2; 34-1 at ¶ 5.)
now move for final certification, and Defendant opposes.
(Dkt. Nos. 99, 111.)
FLSA allows that a collective action for unpaid minimum wages
may be maintained "by any one or more employees for and
in behalf of himself or themselves and other employees
similarly situated." 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). After the
district court has conditionally certified the class, the
potential class members have been identified and notified,
and discovery has been completed, generally, a defendant is
permitted to move "to decertify the collective action,
pointing to a more developed record to support its contention
that the plaintiffs are not similarly situated to the extent
that a collective action would be the appropriate vehicle for
relief." Pelczynski v. Orange Lake Cntry. Club,
Inc., 284 F.R.D. 364, 368 (D.S.C. 2012).
second stage,  the district court applies a heightened
fact-specific standard to the "similarly situated"
analysis. Steinberg v. TQ Logistics, Inc., No.
0:10-cv-2507-JFA, 2011 WL 1335191, at *2 (D.S.C. Apr. 7,
2011); see also Pelczynski, 284 F.R.D. at 368. The
plaintiff maintains the burden of proving that he or she is
similarly situated to the opt-in plaintiffs. Gionfriddo
v. Jason Zink, LLC, 769 F.Supp.2d 880, 886 (D. Md.
2011). If the court determines that the plaintiffs are not,
in fact, similarly situated, it may decertify the class,
dismiss without prejudice the opt-in plaintiffs' claims,
and permit the named plaintiffs to proceed on their
individual claims. Curtis v. Time Warner Entm
't.-Advance/Newhouse P'ship., No.
3:12-cv-2370-JFA, 2013 WL 1874848, at *3 (D.S.C. May 3,
second stage, "similarly situated" means
'"similarly situated with respect to the legal and,
to a lesser extent, the factual issues to be
determined."' Pelczynski, 284 F.R.D. at 368
quoting De Luna-Guerrero v. N.C. Grower's Ass %
338 F.Supp.2d 649, 654 (E.D. N.C. 2004). "In FLSA
actions, persons who are similarly situated to the plaintiffs
must raise a similar legal issue as to coverage, exemption,
or nonpayment or minimum wages or overtime arising from at
least a manageably similar factual setting with respect to
their job requirements or pay provisions." Id.
(internal quotation marks omitted.)
have identified a number of factors to consider at this
[second] stage, including (1) disparate factual and
employment settings of the individual plaintiffs; (2) the
various defenses available to defendants that appear to be
individual to each plaintiff; and (3) fairness and procedural
considerations." Curtis, 2013 WL 1874848, at*3
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The Court
addresses each in turn:
Disparate Factual or Employment Settings
first factor of the decertification analysis involves an
assessment of whether Plaintiffs have provided evidence of a
company-wide policy which may violate the FLSA, as well as an
assessment of Plaintiffs' job duties, geographic
location, supervision, and salary." Regan v. City of
Charleston, 2:13-cv-3046-PMD, 2015 WL 6727079, at *4
(D.S.C. Nov. 3, 2015) (citations omitted) (declining to
decertify class). MacGregor v. Farmers Ins.
Exchange, No. 2:10-cv-03088-DCN, 2011 WL 2981466, at *2