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Greenstein v. Meredith Corp.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

April 23, 2013

MELISSA GREENSTEIN, on behalf of herself and all other persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
MEREDITH CORPORATION, Defendant

For Melissa Greenstein, On behalf of herself and all other persons similarly situated, Plaintiff: Eric L. Dirks, LEAD ATTORNEY, Michael A. Williams, Williams Dirks, LLC, Kansas City, MO; Michael A. Hodgson, The Hodgson Law Firm, LLC, Lee's Summit, MO.

For Kellee Divine, Daniel J. English, John Gilmore, Plaintiffs: Michael A. Hodgson, The Hodgson Law Firm, LLC, Lee's Summit, MO; Michael A. Williams, Williams Dirks, LLC, Kansas City, MO.

For Meredith Corporation, Defendant: Bernard J. Rhodes, Brian N. Woolley, Bridget B. Romero, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Lathrop & Gage LLP - KC, Kansas City, MO.

OPINION

Page 1267

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Julie A. Robinson, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Melissa Greenstein has brought this action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq . and the Kansas Wage Payment Act, K.S.A. 44-312 et seq . alleging unpaid straight time and overtime compensation. Plaintiff worked as a news producer for a Kansas City television station owned by defendant Meredith Corporation. This case is before the court upon a motion for conditional class certification under FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), filed on behalf of Greenstein and other persons who have filed notices to join in the lawsuit.

Section 216(b) provides in part:

An action to recover the liability prescribed [in § 216(b)] may be maintained . . . by any one or more employees for and in behalf of himself or themselves and other employees similarly situated. No employee shall be a party plaintiff to any such action unless he gives his consent in writing to become such a party and such consent is filed in the court in which such action is brought.

(emphasis added). In this case, the motion for conditional certification seeks " conditional certification of a class consisting of [a]ll [c]urrent and former Meredith employees employed in the position/title of 'producer' whose job duties involved the creation and coordination of local television programming, and/or promotions related to such programming, and who were classified by Meredith as exempt from the right to receive overtime." Doc. No. 36, p. 1. The motion also requests: an order designating Greenstein as class representative; an order approving plaintiff's counsel to act as class counsel; the court's approval of a proposed notice and method of distribution to putative class members; and a directive that defendant share certain employee information with plaintiff's counsel.

Defendant Meredith is a company that operates 12 television stations across the nation. Defendant does not object to conditional certification as to news producers who worked at defendant's Kansas City television station, but opposes conditional certification of a class including all other producers at the Kansas City station and all producers at defendant's other stations. Defendant also objects to plaintiff's proposed notice, the proposed procedure for distributing the notice, and to plaintiff's request for some employee information.

I. Request for conditional certification

To succeed upon a motion for conditional certification, plaintiff must present substantial allegations that the putative class members were together the victims of a single decision, policy, or plan. Thiessen v. General Electric Capital Corp., 267 F.3d 1095, 1102 (10th Cir. 2001)(interior quotation omitted). As emphasized above, the class certification requested here is conditional; at a later stage in the case the court must make a second determination involving a stricter standard of class certification. Id. at 1102-03. The standard of certification at the present stage is a lenient one that typically results in class certification. Brown v. Money Tree Mortgage, Inc., 222 F.R.D. 676, 679 (D.Kan. 2004). The court does not weigh the evidence, resolve factual disputes, or rule on the merits of plaintiffs' claims. Gieseke v. First Horizon Home Loan Corp., 408 F.Supp.2d 1164, 1166-67 (D.Kan. 2006).

Page 1268

A. The complaint's allegations

The complaint alleges that plaintiff Greenstein was employed as a " producer" for defendant and paid on a salary basis. Doc. No. 1, ¶ 5. The complaint further alleges that defendant has had a policy of failing to compensate its " producers" straight time for all hours worked and overtime compensation for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Id., ¶ 21. The complaint asserts that plaintiff and the putative class (producers who worked for defendant, but were not paid overtime) are similarly situated in that they had the same job duties and compensation structure. Id., ¶ ¶ 25, 40 & 43. The complaint asserts that plaintiff and the putative class are entitled to be paid overtime compensation under FLSA. Id., ΒΆ ...


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