United States District Court, D. Maryland
TOI AYTCH et al., Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated,
TRULIFE HEALTH SERVICES, LLC, d/b/a TRULIFE HEALTH SERVICES et al., Defendants.
LIPTON HOLLANDER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Toi Aytch, Sharnette Morris, and Aiesha Beaty have filed suit
under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29
U.S.C. § 201 et seq., against Trulife Health
Services, LLC (“Trulife”) and Ijeaku Ezekwesili,
plaintiffs' employers. ECF 20 (Second Amended Complaint).
Plaintiffs allege “willful refusal” by defendants
“to pay [plaintiffs'] wages, including overtime and
travel-time wages.” Id. ¶ 1. They
characterize the suit as both a collective action under the
FLSA and as a class action under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3). ECF
20, ¶ 48. Plaintiffs have also lodged claims under the
Maryland Wage and Hour Law, Md. Code, § 3-401 et
seq. of the Labor & Employment Article
(“L.E.”) (ECF 20 at 12-13) and the Maryland Wage
Payment and Collection Law, L.E. § 3-501 et
seq. ECF 20 at 13. In addition, the Complaint includes a
count by Beaty for retaliation, under the FLSA. Id.
additional plaintiffs have joined the suit since its initial
filing, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). They are April
Wright (ECF 8-5) and Isa Reaves. ECF 16.
pending before the Court is plaintiffs' “Motion for
Conditional Collective Action Certification and
Court-Facilitated Notice” (ECF 14), supported by a
memorandum of law (ECF 14-1) (collectively,
“Motion”) and exhibits. The exhibits include,
inter alia, the Declaration of Toi Aytch (ECF 14-5);
the Declaration of Sharnette Morris (ECF 14-6); the
Declaration of Aiesha Beaty (ECF 14-7); and the Declaration
of April Wright. ECF 14-8.
Motion, plaintiffs also ask the Court to approve a proposed
“Notice of Collective Action” (ECF 14-3) and a
form titled “Consent to Join Collective Action”
(ECF 14-4, “Opt-In Form”) (collectively,
“Proposed Notice”), to be sent to potential
opt-in plaintiffs. See ECF 14-1 at 2. Pursuant to 29
U.S.C. § 216(b), plaintiffs ask the Court, ECF 14-1 at
approve the issuance of notice to all individuals employed by
Trulife and Defendant Ezekwesili, at any time since three
years before the date of the Court's Order resolving the
instant Motion, who did not receive overtime compensation due
for hours worked in excess of 40 per week, including for
weeks in which overtime hours resulted from compensable
oppose the Motion. ECF 15 (“Opposition”). They do
not dispute that plaintiffs are similarly situated. However,
they question whether other plaintiffs will join the suit,
and complain that the Proposed Notice is overbroad. See
Id. Plaintiffs have replied (ECF 17,
“Reply”), and have submitted three examples of
prior Notices of Collective Action signed by judges of this
Court. ECF 17-1 to ECF 17-3.
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See
Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall GRANT
the Motion as to the conditional certification.
are current and former employees of Trulife, a for-profit
home care agency. ECF 20, ¶ 1. Defendant Ezekwesili is
one of Trulife's owners. Id. According to
plaintiffs, Trulife and Ms. Ezekwesili employ approximately
40 home care aides at a time. Id.
work duties included traveling to the homes of various
clients and “assisting clients with toileting, bathing,
mobility, cleaning, food preparation, and general
housekeeping, and accompanying clients to medical and other
appointments.” ECF 20, ¶ 17. Ms. Ezekwesili
allegedly directed plaintiffs' work and exercised control
over their schedules and their hourly wages. Id.
¶ 18. Plaintiffs aver that their pay rates ranged from
$11 to about $13 per hour, and that they often worked more
than 40 hours per week. Id. ¶¶ 19-22,
see ECF 14-6, ¶ 3. However, plaintiffs allege
that they were not paid an overtime rate for hours worked
beyond 40 per week. ECF 20, ¶ 23. Moreover, plaintiffs
assert that they were not compensated for travel time, even
when they were assigned back-to-back shifts at the homes of
different clients. Id. ¶ 24.
Aytch, Morris, Beaty, and Wright all submitted Declarations
to this effect, asserting that they were paid a flat hourly
rate; were never paid overtime even when they worked more
than 40 hours a week; were directed by Ms. Ezekwesili; and
were not paid for travel time. See ECF 14-5, ECF
14-6, ECF 14-7, ECF 14-8. As such, plaintiffs allege that
they were similarly subject to defendants' scheme to
violate the FLSA, and that the case is therefore properly
certified as an FLSA collective action. ECF 20, ¶¶
35-41. Furthermore, plaintiffs claim that the action is
properly maintainable as a class action under Fed.R.Civ.P.
23(b)(3), because common questions of law or fact
predominate, and because a class action would be more
efficient than the institution of individual suits. ECF 20,