United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
JAYLIN BONDS, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated PLAINTIFF
LANGSTON COMPANIES, INC. DEFENDANT
Kristine G. Baker United States District Judge
Jaylin Bonds brings this proposed collective action against
defendant Langston Companies, Inc. (“Langston”).
Mr. Bonds alleges that the payroll system used by Langston
rounded time worked in a way that resulted in several hours
of unpaid work each month for hourly-paid employees,
including weeks hourly-paid employees worked more than 40
hours, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), and the
Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (“AMWA”), Ark. Code
Ann. § 11-4-201, et seq.
the Court is Mr. Bonds’s motion for conditional
certification, for disclosure of contact information, and to
send notices (Dkt. No. 7). Langston responded in opposition
to the motion (Dkt. No. 11), and Mr. Bonds replied (Dkt. No.
12). For the reasons that follow, the Court grants in part
and denies in part Mr. Bonds’s motion for conditional
certification, for disclosure of contact information, and to
send notices (Dkt. No. 7).
Bonds is a former employee of Langston who worked as a
manufacturing plant employee from around March 2018 until
October 2018 (Dkt. No. 7-6, ¶ 4). Mr. Bonds asserts that
his job duties included performing the manual labor necessary
to the manufacturing and finishing process, including
operating the machinery to manufacture and finish various
bags (Id., ¶ 6). Mr. Bonds alleges that the
payroll system used by Langston rounded time worked by
hourly-paid manufacturing plant employees in favor of
Langston (Id., ¶ 10). Mr. Bonds contends that
the time that was rounded in Langston’s favor resulted
in several hours of unpaid work each month for hourly-paid
employees, including weeks hourly-paid employees worked more
than 40 hours (Id., ¶ 12). In his present
motion, Mr. Bonds seeks conditional certification for the
following collective: “[a]ll hourly-paid manufacturing
plant employees who worked more than thirty nine (39) hours
in any week for [d]efendant at any time since October 5,
2015” (Dkt. No. 7, ¶ 3).
An action to recover the liability prescribed . . . 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 brought.
29 U.S.C. § 216(b).
district courts in the Eighth Circuit utilize a two-step
approach in collective action cases. At the notice stage, the
Court must determine, based on the pleadings and affidavits,
whether notice should be given to potential class members.
The key issue is whether the members of the proposed class
are similarly situated. If the Court allows notification,
then a representative class is conditionally certified, and
Mr. Bonds will send notice to the putative opt-in plaintiffs.
At the second stage, the Court determines whether to
decertify the class once discovery is largely complete.
Smith v. Frac Tech Services, Ltd., No. 4:09-cv-679,
2009 WL 4251017, at *2 (E.D. Ark. Nov. 24, 2009) (citation
omitted). This Court has previously adopted this approach.
See McChesney v. Holtger Bros., Inc., No.
4:17-cv-824, 2019 WL 118408, at *2 (E.D. Ark. Jan. 7, 2019);
Watson v. Surf-Frac Wellhead Equip. Co., No.
4:11-cv-843, 2012 WL 5185869, at *1 (E.D. Ark. Oct. 18,
2012); Cruthis v. Vision’s, No. 4:12-cv-244,
2013 WL 4028523, at *1-2 (E.D. Ark. Aug. 7, 2013).
establish that conditional certification is appropriate, the
plaintiff must provide some factual basis from which the
court can determine if similarly situated potential
plaintiffs exist.’” Tegtmeier v. PJ Iowa,
L.C., 208 F.Supp. 3d 1012');">208 F.Supp. 3d 1012, 1018 (S.D. Iowa 2016)
(alteration in original) (quoting Robinson v. Tyson
Foods, Inc., 254 F.R.D. 97, 99 (S.D. Iowa 2008)). Mr.
Bonds’s burden at the notice stage is lenient and may
be met by making a “modest factual showing, ”
typically by the submission of affidavits, that he and the
putative class were victims of a common decision, policy, or
plan of the employer that affected all class members in a
similar fashion. Resendiz-Ramirez v. P & H Forestry,
LLC, 515 F.Supp.2d 937, 941 (W.D. Ark. 2007) (citing
Thiessen v. General Electric Capital Corp., 267 F.3d
1095, 1106-08 (10th Cir. 2001)). However, while this is a
“lenient standard, . . . ‘more than mere
allegations’ are required.” Tegtmeier,
208 F.Supp. 3d at 1018 (quoting Robinson, 254 F.R.D.
district courts will make the determination of whether to
conditionally certify a class based solely on the affidavits
presented by the plaintiffs.” Huang v. Gateway
Hotel Holdings, 248 F.R.D. 225, 227 (E.D. Mo. 2008)
(citation omitted). The Court can consider a variety of
non-exclusive factors in determining whether employees are
similarly situated. Such factors include: (1) whether the
employees held the same job title; (2) whether they worked in
the same geographic location; (3) whether the alleged
violations occurred during the same time period; (4) whether
the employees were subjected to the same policies and
practices and, if so, whether the policies and practices were
established in the same manner and by the same decision
maker; and (5) the extent to which the acts constituting the
alleged violations are similar. Stone v. First Union
Corp., 203 F.R.D. 532, 542-43 (S.D. Fla. 2001) (citing
Hipp v. Liberty Nat’l Life Ins. Co., 252 F.3d
1208, 1217 (11th Cir. 2001); Grayson v. K Mart
Corp., 79 F.3d 1086, 1090, 1097-99 (11th Cir. 1996)).
“The Court does not need to determine whether class
members are actually similarly situated until the
‘merits stage’ of the litigation, when defendants
typically move to decertify the class.” Tinsley v.
Covenant Care Servs., LLC, No. 1:14-cv-00026-ACL, 2015
WL 1433988, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Mar. 27, 2015) (emphasis in
original) (citing Littlefield v. Dealer Warranty Servs.,
LLC, 679 F.Supp.2d 1014, 1016-17 (E.D. Mo. 2010)).
sworn affidavit, Mr. Bonds avers that he worked as an
hourly-paid manufacturing plant employee in Arkansas for
Langston from about March 2018 until October 2018 (Dkt. No.
7-6, ¶ 4). Mr. Bonds alleges that his job duties
included performing the manual labor necessary to the
manufacturing and finishing process, including operating the
machinery to manufacture and finish various bags
(Id., ¶ 6). Mr. Bonds asserts that the payroll
system used by Langston rounded the time worked by himself
and other hourly-paid manufacturing plant employees in favor
of Langston (Id., ¶ 10). Mr. Bonds asserts that
the amount of time that was rounded in Langston’s favor
resulted in ...