United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
ALEXANDRIA WILLIAMS, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
G4S SECURE SOLUTIONS (USA) INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
OSTEEN, JR., District Judge
before this court is Plaintiff's Motion for Notice and
Conditional Certification. (Doc. 15.) Defendant G4S Secure
Solutions (USA) Inc. (“G4S”) has responded (Doc.
22) and Plaintiff has replied (Doc. 26). This matter is ripe
for adjudication and, for the reasons stated herein, this
court will grant Plaintiff's Motion.
this motion was fully briefed, Plaintiff filed an Amended
Complaint, (Doc. 27), and Defendant filed an Answer. (Doc.
28.) Although this court did not grant Plaintiff leave to
file said Amended Complaint, Defendant's Answer will be
construed as consent to its filing and the Amended Complaint
will be permitted and considered the operative complaint.
Alexandria Williams (“Williams”) was employed as
a security officer for Defendant G4S. (Amended Complaint
(“Am. Compl.”) (Doc. 27) ¶ 14.) G4S employs
security officers “throughout the United States,
including in North Carolina, to provide on-site security
services to its clients.” (Id. ¶ 12.)
Williams brought this collective action alleging that she and
other security officers were harmed by G4S's
“practice of failing to accurately record work time and
pay its employees for all hours worked, including overtime
premiums.” (Id. ¶ 16.) Alongside her
Complaint, Williams filed opt-in forms from four similarly
situated security officers. (Complaint
(“Compl.”), Ex. 2, Consent to Join Litigation
(Doc. 1-2) at 1-4.) These opt-in forms were incorporated by
reference in Williams' Amended Complaint. (Am. Compl.
(Doc. 27) ¶ 49.)
from these consent forms, and alongside her Motion for Notice
and Conditional Certification, Williams also filed
declarations from herself and two of the putative opt-in
class members. (See generally Pl.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot.
for Notice and Conditional Certification (“Pl.'s
Mem.”), Ex. 1, Alexandria Williams Decl.
(“Williams Decl.”) (Doc. 16-1); Ex. 3, Alastair
Nicholson Decl. (“Nicholson Decl.”) (Doc. 16-3);
Ex. 4, Scott Praley Decl. (“Praley Decl.”) (Doc.
16-4).) These security officers each declare that, pursuant
to G4S pay and timekeeping policies, they were regularly
uncompensated for pre- and post-shift work, resulting in
deprivation of overtime premiums and/or non-payment for the
entirety of overtime hours worked. (See Williams Decl. (Doc.
16-1) ¶¶ 4-11; Nicholson Decl. (Doc. 16-3)
¶¶ 5-12; Praley Decl. (Doc. 16-4) ¶¶
now moves for conditional certification of a Fair Labor
Standards Act (“FLSA”) collective action to
include all security officers who have worked for G4S during
the last three years at one or more of the following client
sites: Google Data Center in Lenoir, North Carolina; Whiting
Turner in Lenoir, North Carolina; J.E. Dunn in Lenoir, North
Carolina; Frye Hospital in Hickory, North Carolina; Fiserv in
Hickory, North Carolina; Mission Hospital in Asheville, North
Carolina; and General Electric in West Jefferson, North
Carolina. (Am. Compl. (Doc. 27) ¶ 15; Pl.'s Mem.
(Doc. 16) at 11-12.)
FLSA provides that an action for unpaid overtime wages can be
brought “by any one or more employees for and in behalf
of himself or themselves and other employees similarly
situated, ” but that “[n]o 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); see also Simmons v. United Mortg.
& Loan Inv., LLC, 634 F.3d 754, 758 (4th Cir. 2011).
employ a two-stage certification procedure for FLSA
collective actions.” Solais v. Vesuvio's II
Pizza & Grill, Inc., No. 1:15CV227, 2016 WL 1057038,
at *5 (M.D. N.C. Mar. 14, 2016); see also Kirkpatrick v.
Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions, No.
1:16CV1088, 2017 WL 3841858, at *4 (M.D. N.C. Sept. 1, 2017).
During conditional certification, which is the first stage,
the court determines whether the employees' claims are
similar enough to merit the distribution of court-approved
notice to possible class members. Kirkpatrick, 2017 WL
3841858, at *4; see also Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. v.
Sperling, 493 U.S. 165, 169 (1989) (“[D]istrict
courts have discretion, in appropriate cases, to implement .
. . § 216(b) . . . by facilitating notice to potential
plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating that notice is
appropriate. See, e.g., Purdham v. Fairfax Cty. Pub.
Schs., 629 F.Supp.2d 544, 548 (E.D. Va. 2009),
aff'd, 637 F.3d 421 (4th Cir. 2011). “Conditional
certification is appropriate when it would serve judicial
efficiency, and the court must be mindful that granting
conditional certification expands the scope of the litigation
and begins a process of class-wide discovery.”
Kirkpatrick, 2017 WL 3841858, at *4 (citations omitted). The
“similarly situated” requirement, “although
certainly not a ‘rubber-stamp approach, ' remains
relatively modest.” Adams v. Citicorp Credit
Servs., Inc., 93 F.Supp.3d 441, 453 (M.D. N.C. 2015)
(citation omitted). While parties generally “have
minimal evidence at this point in the proceedings[, ] . . .
[m]ere allegations will not suffice; some factual evidence is
necessary.” Id. (citations omitted) (second
alteration in original). That evidence must tend to show that
there exists a “common policy, scheme, or plan”
that violates the FLSA, but it “need not . . . enable
the court to determine conclusively whether a class of
similarly situated plaintiffs exists, and it need not include
evidence that the company has a formal policy of refusing to
pay overtime.” Id. (citation omitted). The
class certification determination “is ‘usually
based only on the pleadings and any affidavits that have been
submitted' during the initial stages of
litigation.” Cerrato v. Durham Pub. Schs. Bd. of
Educ., No. 1:16CV1431, 2017 WL 2983301, at *5 (M.D. N.C.
Mar. 17, 2017) (quoting Mooney v. Aramco Servs.,
Co., 54 F.3d 1207, 1214 (5th Cir. 1995)). “At this
stage, ‘the Court does not resolve factual disputes,
decide substantive issues on the merits, or make credibility
determinations.'” Kirkpatrick, 2017 WL 3841858, at
*4 (citation omitted).
opposes conditional certification on primarily two grounds.
First, it argues that Williams has only made conclusory
allegations and has failed to make a factual showing that a
similarly situated group of plaintiffs exists. (Def.'s
Mem. of Law in Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for Notice and
Conditional Certification (“Def.'s Mem.”)
(Doc. 22) at 8.) Specifically, G4S asserts that Williams has
not identified an actual G4S policy, has not offered any
evidence of policies at four of the identified G4S client
sites, and fails to acknowledge unique factual issues at
various G4S client sites. (Id. at 8-12.)
noted above, plaintiffs seeking conditional certification are
not required to conclusively establish that a formal policy
which violates the FLSA exists. Adams, 93 F.Supp.3d at 453;
Kirkpatrick, 2017 WL 3841858, at *4. Instead, a
plaintiff's “evidence must tend to show that there
exists a ‘common policy, scheme, or plan' that
violates the FLSA[.]” Kirkpatrick, 2017 WL 3841858, at
*4 (citation omitted). But see Grayson v. K Mart
Corp.,79 F.3d 1086, 1095 (11th Cir. 1996) (articulating
an even lower standard, holding that “a unified policy,
plan, or scheme of discrimination may not be required to
satisfy the more liberal ...