Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ellis v. Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp.

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

February 27, 2019

CHRISTOPHER ELLIS, ROBERT SCHMITZ, and GREGORY SUBECK, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated PLAINTIFFS
v.
BAPTIST MEMORIAL HEALTH CARE CORPORATION DEFENDANT

          ORDER

          SHARION AYCOCK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Christopher Ellis, Robert Schmitz, and Gregory Subeck, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, filed their Complaint [1] against Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation in this Court on March 26, 2018, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Now before the Court is the Plaintiffs' Motion [6] to conditionally certify a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) as provided for by 29 U.S.C. § 216(b).

         Factual and Procedural Background

         The Plaintiffs were employed at the Defendant's Oxford, Mississippi location from January 1, 2015, through November 2017.[1] The Plaintiffs operated as emergency medical teams which consisted of a combination of emergency medical service drivers, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics. Throughout their employment, the Plaintiffs were employed for workweeks in excess of forty hours. During this time, the Plaintiffs worked either, two twenty-four hour shifts a workweek, or, four twelve-hour shifts a workweek resulting in the Plaintiffs working either two or six hours of overtime in a given workweek, depending on their scheduled shift. The Plaintiffs allege that the Defendant did not compensate them for the total overtime worked during the relevant time period.[2]

         On April 5, 2018, the Plaintiffs' filed a Motion [6] for conditional certification of the collective action. The Plaintiffs assert that the Defendant maintains a policy that it will not compensate the Plaintiffs for unpaid overtime hours unless the Plaintiffs show they were out on a call, in the ambulance, or performing some other job duty described by the Defendant because the Defendant characterizes the unpaid hours as “downtime.” Due to this policy, the Plaintiffs claim that they were often discouraged from challenging or requesting the payment of unpaid hours. The Plaintiffs now request that the Court conditionally certify this FLSA action as a collective action and provide notice to potential plaintiffs, indicating that potential plaintiffs may be found at the Defendant's Oxford, New Albany, Calhoun City, and/or Columbus locations.

         FLSA Legal Standard

         Under § 207(a) of the FLSA, covered employers are required to pay nonexempt employees an overtime rate of one and one-half times their regular pay rate for hours worked over forty hours in a workweek. 29 U.S.C. § 207(a). Section 216(b) “provides that an employee may bring an action to recover damages for specified violations of the Act on behalf of himself and other ‘similarly situated' employees.” Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk, 569 U.S. 66, 69, 133 S.Ct. 1523, 185 L.Ed.2d 636 (2013). While the Fifth Circuit has declined to set a standard for certifying a collective action, it has affirmed district court decisions utilizing the two-stage certification process set forth in Lusardi v. Xerox Corp., 118 F. R. D. 351 (D.N.J. 1987). Portillo v. Permanent Workers, L.L.C., 662 Fed.Appx. 277, 280 (5th Cir. 2016). Lusardi advises a two-step certification analysis: (1) the notice stage and (2) the merits, or “opt in, ” stage.[3]

         In the notice stage, the Court determines whether a conditional class should be certified. This first step requires a plaintiff to show that (1) there is a reasonable basis for crediting the assertions that aggrieved individuals exits, (2) those aggrieved individuals are similarly situated to the plaintiff in relevant respects given the claims and defenses asserted, and (3) those individuals want to opt in to the lawsuit. Heeg v. Adams Harris, Inc., 907 F.Supp.2d 856, 861 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 31, 2012). While District Courts have broad discretion to certify a class and issue orders authorizing notice to potential plaintiffs, because “the court's decision at this stage is based only on the pleadings and affidavits, the standard is lenient and typically results in conditional certification.” Id.; see also Birdie v. Brandi's Hope Community Services, LLC, No. 5:17-CV-21-DCB, 2017 WL 2588089, *1 (S.D.Miss. Jun. 14, 2017) (citing Hoffman-La Roche, Inc. v. Sperling, 493 U.S. 165, 169 (1989)); Burke v. Management & Training Corp., No. 3:16-CV-152-NBB, 2017 WL 316684, *2 (N.D. Miss. Jul. 25, 2017) (citing Harris v. Hinds County, Miss., No. 3:12-CV-542-CWR, 2014 WL 457913, *2 (S.D.Miss. Feb. 4, 2014).

         During the notice stage of litigation, it is “not the role of this Court to resolve factual disputes over the merits of the claims.” Huaman v. Ojos Locos Sports Cantina LLC, No. 3:13-CV-4938, 2014 WL 4081554, *4 (N.D. Tex. Aug. 19, 2014).[4] Indeed, at this stage, “courts appear to require nothing more than substantial allegations that the putative class members were together the victims of a single decision, policy, or plan infected by discrimination.” Tzib v. Moore Feed Store, Inc., No. 3:14-CV-65-MPM, 2015 WL 2415530, *3 (N.D. Miss. May 21, 2015) (citing Mooney v. Aramco Servs. Co., 54 F.3d 1207, 1214, n. 8 (5th Cir. 1995) (internal quotations omitted). In support thereof, “[a] factual basis for the allegations must be presented, and there must be a showing of some identifiable facts or legal nexus that binds the claims so that hearing the cases together promotes judicial efficiency.” Tolentino v. C & J Spec-Rent Services Inc., 716 F.Supp.2d 642, 647 (S.D. Tex. May 26, 2010). If the Plaintiffs make such a showing, “the Court may certify the class and facilitate notice to potential class members.” Birdie, 2017 WL 2588089, at *2 (citing Hoffman-La Roche, Inc. v. Sperling, 493 U.S. 165, 169 (1989)).

         Conditional Certification Analysis

         The Plaintiffs request that the Court conditionally certify a representational class, described as:

Persons who are, or were, employed by Defendant and who are, or were, performing the duties of emergency medical service drivers, emergency medical technicians, or paramedics at its Oxford, New Albany, Calhoun City, or Columbus locations in Mississippi from January 1, 2015, to the date of this collective action certification.

         The Defendants oppose this Motion [6] for conditional certification on two grounds. First, the Defendant argues that Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation did not employ the Plaintiffs or emergency services personnel at the identified facilities, as BMHCC provided only payroll processing services to the related entities. The Defendant asserts that because the Plaintiffs were employed by Baptist Memorial Heath - North Mississippi, and not BMHCC, the Motion for conditional certification must be denied.

         Next, the Defendant argues that the Plaintiffs failed to present evidence of a decision, policy or plan that applied across the class they seek to represent. Instead of presenting substantial allegations that the Plaintiffs were together victims of a single decision, policy, or plan, as required for conditional certification, the Defendant argues that the Plaintiffs provide mere speculation that any employee at other locations were not compensated properly. See Tzib, 2015 WL 2415530, at *3 (citing Mooney, 54 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.