United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge.
plaintiffs Andre Peterson, John Grant, and Michelle Jones
(collectively, “plaintiffs”), on behalf of
themselves and others similarly situated, have filed a
Complaint against defendants Universal Medical Equipment
& Resources, Inc. (“UMER”) and Eyibio Adah,
UMER's owner, (collectively, “defendants”)
alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29
U.S.C. § 201, et seq. (“FLSA”), the
Maryland Wage and Hour Law (“MWHL”), Md. Code
Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 3-401, et seq., and
the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law
(“MWPCL”), Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. §
3-501, et seq. Specifically, plaintiffs allege that
defendants failed to pay plaintiffs minimum wages and
overtime compensation in violation of federal and state
(Counts I and II, ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 68-74.)
Defendants have filed an Answer to the Complaint (ECF No.
13), and the parties have undertaken discovery.
pending before this Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for
Conditional Certification of a Collective Action under 29
U.S.C. § 216(b) of the FLSA (“Plaintiffs'
Motion”) (ECF No. 26). The parties' submissions
have been reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See
Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below,
Plaintiffs' Motion for Conditional Certification (ECF No.
26) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. Specifically, it
is GRANTED as to the conditional certification of a class
consisting of “[a]ll current and former medical
transport drivers who worked for Universal Medical Equipment
& Resources, Inc. (“Universal”) or Eyibio
Adah (“Adah”) from October 11, 2013 to the
present.” See ECF No. 32-2 at 1. The Motion is
further GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART as to the contents
and manner of the proposed Notice. The parties shall be
directed to confer and submit a joint proposed notice
consistent with the determinations set forth below.
are Maryland residents who were employed by defendants UMER
and Adah for varying terms between March 2013 and June 2015.
(ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 6-8.) Plaintiffs were employed by
defendants for approximately three months (Peterson),
approximately eight months (Grant), and approximately nine
months (Jones). (Id.) Plaintiffs worked as medical
transport drivers who transported customers to and from
medical appointments throughout Maryland. (Id. at
¶ 16.) In conjunction with their Motion, plaintiffs
filed a series of Declarations in which they state that they:
were paid the same daily rate regardless of hours worked (ECF
No. 26-2 at ¶ 4); used vehicles owned by defendants
(Id. at ¶ 5); worked roughly the same number of
hours per day (approximately 4:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.)
(Id.); and were directed by their supervisor Mr.
Adah which routes they would complete (Id. at ¶
6). See also ECF No. 26-3 at ¶¶ 4-6, ECF
No. 26-4 at ¶¶ 4-7. The Complaint alleges that
defendants failed to pay their employees the legal minimum
wage and failed to pay their employees overtime wages to
which they were entitled. (ECF No. 26 at ¶¶ 68-74.)
the FLSA, a plaintiff may bring an action on behalf of
himself and other employees so long as the other employees
are “similarly situated” to the plaintiff. 29
U.S.C. § 216(b); see also Quinteros v. Sparkle
Cleaning, Inc., 532 F.Supp.2d 762, 771 (D. Md. 2008). As
this Court has previously noted, Section 216
“establishes an ‘opt-in' scheme, whereby
potential plaintiffs must affirmatively notify the court of
their intentions to be a party to the suit.”
Quinteros, 532 F.Supp.2d at 771 (citing Camper
v. Home Quality Mgmt., Inc., 200 F.R.D. 516, 519 (D. Md.
2000)). Section 216(b) provides, in relevant part, that:
An action . . . may be maintained against any employer . . .
in any Federal or State court of competent jurisdiction 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
29 U.S.C. § 216(b).
this Court has employed a two-step inquiry when deciding
whether to certify a collective action under the FLSA.
Syrja v. Westat, Inc., 756 F.Supp.2d 682, 686 (D.
Md. 2010); Banks v. Wet Dog Inc., No. CIV.A.
RDB-13-2294, 2015 WL 433631, at *1 (D. Md. Feb. 2, 2015).
First, upon a minimal evidentiary showing that a plaintiff
can meet the substantive requirements of 29 U.S.C. §
216(b), the plaintiff may proceed with a collective action on
a provisional basis. Second, following discovery, the court
engages in a more stringent inquiry to determine whether the
plaintiff class is “similarly situated” in
accordance with the requirements of § 216. Rawls v.
Augustine Home Health Care, Inc., 244 F.R.D. 298, 300
(D. Md. 2007) (internal citations omitted). The Court then
renders a final decision regarding the propriety of
proceeding as a collective action. Id. The second,
more “stringent” phase of collective action
certification under the FLSA is often prompted by a
defendant's filing of a motion to decertify, and thus is
referred to as the “decertification stage.”
Syrja, 756 F.Supp.2d at 686.
to grant conditional certification is a matter of the
court's discretion. Syrja, 756 F.Supp.2d at 686
(stating that “[d]eterminations of the appropriateness
of conditional collective action certification . . . are left
to the court's discretion”); see also
Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc. v. Sperling, 493 U.S. 165, 169
(1989). As the Court has explained, the “paramount
issue in determining the appropriateness of a conditional
class certification is whether plaintiffs have demonstrated
that potential class members are ‘similarly
situated.'” Williams v. Long, 585
F.Supp.2d 679, 684 (D. Md. 2008).
bear the burden of showing that their claims are
“similarly situated, ” but courts have ruled that
“similarly situated” need not mean
“identical.” See, e.g., Hipp v.
Liberty Nat. Life Ins. Co., 252 F.3d 1208, 1217 (11th
Cir. 2001). This Court has held that a group of FLSA
plaintiffs is similarly situated if they can show they were
victims of a common policy, scheme, or plan that violated the
law. Mancía v. Mayflower Textile Servs. Co.,
CIV.A. No. CCB- 08-273, 2008 WL 4735344, at *3 (D. Md. Oct.
allegations thus “must consist of more than
‘vague allegations' with ‘meager factual
support, ' but [they] need not enable the court to reach
a conclusive determination whether a class of similarly
situated plaintiffs exists.” Id. at *2
(quoting D'Anna v. M/A- COM, Inc., 903 F.Supp.
889, 893 (D. Md. 1995). Moreover, “[w]hen sufficient
evidence in the record at the initial ‘notice'
stage makes it clear that notice is not appropriate, . . . a
court can . . . deny certification outright.”
Syrja, 756 F.Supp.2d at 686 (quoting Purdham v.
Fairfax Cnty. Pub. Sch.,629 F.Supp.2d 544, 547 (E.D.Va.
2009)). Plaintiffs may rely on “affidavits or other
means” to make the required showing. Williams,
585 F.Supp.2d at 683; see ...