A group of welders have prevailed on their efforts to conditionally certify a case for overtime pay. The plaintiff worked as a welder for Defendant Alpine Site Services, Inc. Alpine is a transportation and logistics company that provides engineered screwpiles for commercial construction projects. The plaintiff alleged that he and his fellow co-workers were paid on an hourly basis and typically worked in excess of 40 hours per week. They were paid straight time, meaning the same hourly rate for all hours worked, even those in excess of 40 hours per week.
The plaintiff filed suit on behalf of himself and all laborers, welders, and machine/equipment operators employed by Alpine during the last three years. Alpine opposed the plaintiff’s request for conditional certification, claiming that the plaintiff—and every member of the putative class—was exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements. The defendant further argued that a highly individualized analysis would be required to determine whether the FLSA’s overtime rules apply to the putative class members. The Court rejected this argument, finding that “[a]t this notice stage, it is inappropriate to conduct the factual inquiry necessary to assess the validity of merits-based defenses.” The Court noted that “[a] careful evaluation of merits-based defenses goes beyond the scope of this initial, notice stage of the conditional certification process, and is best reserved for the decertification stage, after discovery has occurred and the district court is able to examine all the evidence more fully.” The Court stated, “[t]ellingly, Alpine cannot point to a single case in which a district court refused to grant conditional certification at the notice stage out of a concern that the MCA exemption or small-vehicle exception would require individualized assessments. The need for individual assessments simply does not automatically defeat conditional certification at the notice stage. Indeed, there are a number of cases specifically finding that MCA exemption and small-vehicle exception cases are appropriate for conditional certification.” As such, the Court conditionally certified a class of “All laborers, welders, and machine/equipment operators employed by Alpine at any time during the three-year period before this order, March 31, 2017, through March 31, 2020.” The Court further ordered the parties to confer and file an agreed Proposed Notice and an agreed Proposed Consent to Join form.
About the author: Josh Borsellino is a Texas attorney who focuses on representing workers in overtime pay disputes. Josh Borsellino was not involved in the case discussed in this blog post. If you have questions about whether you are entitled to overtime pay, call Josh at 817.908.9861 or complete this form for a free evaluation.