United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
TIMOTHY BURKE, on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated current and former employees PLAINTIFFS
MANAGEMENT AND TRAINING CORPORATION DEFENDANT
B. BIGGERS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause comes before the court upon Defendant's Motion to
Decertify the Collective Action. Upon due consideration of
the motion, response, exhibits and applicable authority, the
court is ready to rule.
and Procedural Background
Timothy Burke commenced the instant litigation, alleging that
his former employer, Defendant Management & Training
Corporation (“MTC”), violated the Fair Labor
Standards Act (“FLSA”) by willfully
misclassifying him as exempt from the statute's overtime
provisions. MTC currently operates three correctional
facilities within the state of Mississippi. Burke was a
former MTC employee who worked as a Lieutenant at MTC's
Marshall County facility. Burke alleged that he was paid on a
salary basis, regularly worked in excess of forty hours a
week, and was not compensated for those excess hours.
sought to institute this action on behalf of himself, as well
as others similarly situated. He contended that all employees
holding the position of Lieutenant in MTC's Mississippi
facilities were misclassified as exempt. The court granted
Burke's motion to conditionally certify this FLSA suit as
a collective action under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) and ordered
that notice be sent to putative plaintiffs. More than fifty
former and current MTC employees chose to opt in. The parties
have completed discovery and MTC now moves to decertify the
to the FLSA, covered employers are required to compensate
non-exempt employees for overtime when they work in excess of
forty hours per week. 29 U.S.C. §207(a). When an
employee is unlawfully denied overtime, the FLSA permits an
employee to bring suit against an employer “for and in
behalf of himself . . . and other employees similarly
situated.” 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Employers, however,
do not have to pay overtime to individuals “employed in
a bona fide executive, administrative, or
professional capacity.” 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1).
These exemptions constitute affirmative defenses to FLSA
overtime claims. Id.
discovery is complete and the employer moves to decertify the
collective action, the court must make a factual
determination as to whether there are similarly-situated
employees who have opted in.” Portillo v. Permanent
Workers, L.L.C., 662 Fed.Appx. 277, 279 (5th Cir. 2016).
“The court is required to ‘look beyond the
pleadings and affidavits,' and make its determination
‘in light of all information gathered during the
post-opt-in discovery.'” White v. NTC Transp.
Inc., 2013 WL 5874566, at * 2 (N.D. Miss. Oct. 31, 2013)
(quoting Gallender v. Empire Fire & Marine Ins.
Co., 2007 WL 325792, at *2 (S.D.Miss. Jan. 31, 2007)).
court determines that they are not similarly situated, the
opt-in plaintiffs are dismissed without prejudice, and the
lead plaintiff proceeds to trial on his individual claims.
Mooney v. Aramco Servs., 54 F.3d 1207, 1214 (5th
Cir. 1995). “The decision whether to decertify a
collective action is within the court's
discretion.” Falcon v. Starbucks Corp., 580
F.Supp.2d 528, 534 (S.D. Tex. 2008) (citing Mooney,
54 F.3d at 1213).
Arguments for Decertification
advances two arguments in support of its motion to decertify
the instant collective action. MTC first argues that the
action must be decertified because Burke failed to
demonstrate that he was similarly situated to the opt-in
plaintiffs. MTC further contends that discovery has revealed
significant differences in the opt-in plaintiffs' daily
duties such that their claims cannot be properly adjudicated
as a collective action.
Plaintiff failed to show that he was similarly situated to
lead plaintiff in a collective action “bears the burden
of showing that [he] and the opt-in plaintiffs are similarly
situated.” White v. Baptist Mem. Hlth. Care
Corp., 699 F.3d 869, 877 (6th Cir. 2012); see also
Proctor v. Allsups Convenience Stores, Inc., 250 F.R.D.
278, 280 (N.D. Tex. 2008). If the lead plaintiff fails to
carry his burden, the collective action should be
decertified. White, 699 F.3d at 878. Burke passed
away while discovery was being taken, but before he could be
deposed or respond to ...