United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge
Stephen Brianas has filed suit against Defendant Under Armour
Inc. under Section 16(b) of the Federal Fair Labor Standards
Act of 1938, as amended, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et
seq. ("FLSA"); the Maryland Wage and Hour Law,
Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. §§ 3-401, et
seq. ("MWHL"); and the Maryland Wage Payment
and Collection Law, Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl,
§§ 3-501, et seq. ("MWPCL").
(Compl., ECF No. 1.) Mr. Brianas alleges that Under Armour
violated these statutes by classifying its analysts as
salaried employees in order to avoid overtime wage
requirements. (See Id. at ¶¶ 80-82.)
pending before the Court is Plaintiffs Motion for Conditional
Certification of a Collective Class and to Facilitate
Identification and Notice to Similarly Situated Employees
("Motion for Conditional Certification"). (ECF No.
The parties' submissions have been reviewed, and no
hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6. For the
reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs Motion for Conditional
Certification (ECF No. 7) is DENIED, and this case will
proceed as an individual claim under the FLSA, MWHL, and
Under Armour, Inc. ("Defendant" or "Under
Armour") is a global manufacturer of athletic apparel
headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. (ECF No. 15 at 3.)
Under Armour maintains four separate divisions: Brand House,
Warehouse, E-Commerce, and Distribution House. (Id.)
From 2011 until April 7, 2017, Plaintiff Stephen Brianas
("Plaintiff or "Mr, Brianas") worked as an
allocation analyst ("analyst") in the Brand House
division. (Brianas Decl., Pl. Ex. A at ¶ 4, ECF No.
7-2.) Plaintiff asserts that his duties "centered on
routine data entry" related to the allocation of store
inventory. (Pl. Mem. at 2, ECF No.7-1.) He alleges that
during his tenure, one to three analysts also worked in Brand
House. (ECF No. 7-2 at ¶ 4.)
notes that the "Action Plan" for Mr. Brianas dated
December 2, 2016 indicates multiple performance issues, which
resulted in a Performance Improvement Plan. (See
Def. Exhibits G-H, ECF-Nos. 15-7 and 15-8.) On February 1,
2017, Defendant approved a medical accommodation request by
Plaintiff to allow him "flexibility to work from
home." (Def. Ex. J, ECF No. 15-10.) Defendant reports
that it terminated Plaintiff in April 2017. (Def. Resp. at 7,
ECF No. 15.)
October 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant
alleging violations of the FLSA, MWHL, and MWPCL based on the
Defendant's purported policy of paying all of its
analysts a salary in order to avoid overtime wage
requirements. (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 80-82.) Plaintiff
subsequently filed a Motion for Conditional Certification
(ECF No. 7) supported by Mr. Brianas' Declaration
executed on November 8, 2017 (ECF No. 7-2). In the
Declaration, Mr. Brianas asserts that under the alleged
policy, Defendant did not pay analysts overtime when
Defendant's demands required them to work more than forty
(40) hours per week. Specifically, Mr. Brianas claims that
analysts "consistently worked as many as sixty (60)
hours each week." (Id. at ¶¶ 5, 26.)
Defendant filed a Response (ECF No. 15) supported by,
inter alia, affidavits from three Brand House
allocation analysts contain assertions at odds with Mr.
Brianas' claims as to the scope of their duties and the
hours worked (see Def. Exhibits C-E, ECF Nos. 15-3
has filed an Answer (ECF No. 10) asserting various
affirmative defenses, and discovery deadlines have been
stayed pending resolution of the Motion for Conditional
Certification. (ECF 20.)
the Fair Labor Standards Act, a plaintiff may bring an action
on behalf of herself 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 explained, Section 216 of the FLSA
"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.
decision to grant conditional certification is left to the
court's broad discretion. Syrja v. Westat, Inc.,
756 F.Supp.2d 682, 686 (D. Md. 2010); see also
Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc. v. Sperling, 493 U.S. 165, 169
(1989). This Court employs a two-step inquiry when deciding
whether to certify a collective action under the FLSA.
Syria, 756 F.Supp.2d at 686; Banks v. Wet Dog
Inc., No. CIV.A. RDB-13-2294, 2015 WL 433631, at *1 (D.
Md. Feb. 2, 2015).
the first stage, commonly referred to as the notice stage,
die court makes a threshold determination of whether the
plaintiff]] ha[s] demonstrated that potential class members
are similarly situated, such that court-facilitated notice to
putative class members would be appropriate." Butler
v. DirectSAT USA, LLC, 876 F.Supp.2d 560, 566 (D. Md.
2012) (internal quotations omitted). The central question
"is whether [potential plaintiffs] are similarly
situated in a way that suggests they were victims of a common
policy, scheme, or plan that violated the FLSA."
Desmond v. Alliance, Inc., CCB-14-3499, 2015 WL
2165115, at *3 (D. Md. May 7, 2015). The Court may deny
conditional certification if "the adjudication of
multiple claims . . . would require the parties, the Court,
and perhaps eventually a jury, to engage in an unmanageable
assortment of individualized factual inquiries."
Syrja, 756 F.Supp.2d at 688. In making this
determination, "[t]he courts . . . have a responsibility
to avoid the 'stirring up' of litigation through
unwarranted solicitation." DAnna v. M/A-COM,
Inc., 903 F.Supp. 889, 894 (D. Md. 1995) (quoting
Severtson v. Phillips Beverage Co., 137 F.R.D. 264,
267 (D. Minn. 1991)).
the notice stage, the plaintiff must make "only a
relatively modest factual showing" as to the existence
of a common policy, scheme, or plan that violates the FLSA.
Butler, 876 F.Supp.2d at 566. The plaintiff
"must submit evidence establishing at least a colorable
basis for [her] claim that a class of 'similarly
situated' plaintiffs exist[s]." Quinteros,
532 F.Supp.2d at 772 (quoting Severtson, 137 F.R.D.
at 266-267). The plaintiff, however, must provide "more
than vague allegations with meager factual support."
Randolph v. PowerComm Const., Inc., 7 F.Supp.3d 561,
576 (D. Md. 2014); see also Bouthner v. Cleveland Const.,
Inc., No. RDB-11-0244, 2012 WL 738578, at *6
(D. Md. Mar. 5, 2012) ("Plaintiffs cannot rely
on allegations alone."). Factual submissions may include
"affidavits or other means." Quinteros,
532 F.Supp.2d at 772.
the second stage, following discovery, the court engages in a
more stringent inquiry to confirm 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 ...