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Kuri v. Addictive Behavioral Change Health Group, LLC

United States District Court, D. Kansas

November 13, 2017

CRYSTAL KURI, On Behalf of Herself and All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff,
v.
ADDICTIVE BEHAVIORAL CHANGE HEALTH GROUP, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JULIE A. ROBINSON CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Conditional Certification of Class Claims Under § 216(b) of the FLSA (Doc. 26). Defendant does not oppose the motion.

         The matter is fully briefed, and the Court is prepared to rule. Because the motion is unopposed, and for the reasons stated in detail below, Plaintiff's motion is granted. Specifically, the Court will conditionally certify the following class:

All nurses who were employed by Defendant, on an hourly basis, from November 9, 2014 to the present and who were not paid for all straight time and overtime premiums for all hours worked in excess of forty per work week.

         The Court authorizes written notice to be sent to putative plaintiffs. However, the Court first directs the parties to confer, attempt to agree on a proper notice and consent-to-join form, and resubmit the forms for the Court's approval.

         I. Standard

         Plaintiff seeks to conditionally certify her claim brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) as a collective action under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). An action under the FLSA may be brought “against any employer . . . by any one or more employees for and in behalf of himself or themselves and other employees similarly situated.”[1] Unlike a class action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, to participate in an FLSA collective action, all plaintiffs must “give[ ] [their] consent in writing to become such a party, ” and it must be “filed in the court in which such action is brought.”[2]

         Before notice is sent to putative plaintiffs to inform them of the pending action, it must be conditionally certified as a collective action. The court may certify an opt-in collective action so long as the aggrieved employees are similarly situated.[3] Section 216(b) does not define “similarly situated.” The Tenth Circuit has approved an ad hoc case-by-case basis for determining whether employees are “similarly situated” for purposes of § 216(b).[4] This involves a two-step inquiry.[5] The first step occurs at the “notice stage” of the proceedings. Here, the court determines if certification is proper for purposes of sending notice of the action to potential collective action members.[6] At this stage, the court “requires nothing more than substantial allegations that the putative class members were together the victims of a single decision, policy or plan.”[7] This standard is very lenient and typically results in conditional certification.[8]

         After discovery is complete, defendant may file a motion to decertify, and the court then applies a stricter standard to assure that plaintiffs are actually similarly situated.[9] During this second stage, the court reviews a number of factors, including “(1) disparate factual and employment settings of the individual plaintiffs; (2) the various defenses available to defendant which appear to be individual to each plaintiff; (3) fairness and procedural considerations; and (4) whether plaintiffs made the filings required [] before instituting suit.”[10]

         II. Background

         Plaintiff filed this action on October 5, 2016. The allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint are summarized as follows.

         Plaintiff was employed by Defendant as an hourly nurse. She seeks to represent a class composed of nurses employed on an hourly basis, who worked for Defendant from October 5, 2013 to the present and who allege they were not paid for all straight time and overtime premiums of all hours worked in excess of forty hours per workweek.

         In Count I of her Complaint, Plaintiff asserts a collective claim pursuant to § 216(b) of the FLSA for straight time and overtime compensation on behalf of all hourly nurses who have worked for Defendant. Plaintiff seeks relief in the form of a declaratory judgment, an award of damages for straight time and overtime compensation due to Plaintiff and the putative members of the collective action, liquidated damages, and costs and expenses of this action, including reasonable attorneys' fees. While Plaintiff asserts additional causes of action, including a claim for violation of the Kansas Wage Payment Act, K.S.A. § 44-313, et seq., quantum meruit, and breach of contract, the FLSA claim is the only basis on which Plaintiff seeks approval of a collective action.

         III. Discussion

         A. Conditional Certification

         Plaintiff's motion is before the Court at the notice stage of review. The parties have not yet completed discovery.[11] Furthermore, the scheduling order provides deadlines only for limited discovery preceding the motion for conditional certification, and a trial date has not yet been set. As the parties do not dispute that the present motion is pending before this Court at the first stage, the Court applies a lenient notice-stage analysis, reviewing the allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint and declarations, requiring ...


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