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Sanchez v. Q'Max Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

February 27, 2018

JOSEPH SANCHEZ, on behalf of himself and all similarly situated persons, Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Joseph Sanchez's (1) Motion for Class Certification of State Law Claims (Doc. # 46); and (2) Motion for Conditional Certification of under the Fair Labor Standards Act (Doc. # 24.) For the following reasons, the Court denies both motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Defendants[1] own and operate oil and gas industry service companies that provide individuals to work at their client's oil and gas facilities. (Doc. # 18 at ¶ 15.) Plaintiff worked as a Consultant for Defendants for approximately three months. (Id. at 23.) Plaintiff alleges that, during that time, Defendants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201; the Colorado Wage Claim Act (CWCA), Colo. Rev. Stat. § 8-4-101, et seq.; and the Colorado Minimum Wage Order by misclassifying Plaintiff and failing to pay him overtime compensation. (Id. at ¶¶ 38-47.) Plaintiff adds that Defendants misclassified numerous employees as non-employee consultants, contractors, or independent contractors (Consultants, collectively) and improperly paid them day rates without overtime compensation. (Id. at ¶ 28.) As a result, Plaintiff commenced this action seeking compensation for himself and on behalf of other allegedly misclassified and underpaid Consultants. (Id. at ¶ 47.) He now seeks to certify a collective class to pursue the FLSA claim and a Rule 23 class to pursue his Colorado wage claims.

         II. FLSA CLASS

         The Court first turns to Plaintiff's request to certify a collective action under the FLSA. Defendants oppose certification because, they allege, the proposed collective class was already certified in Pennsylvania and certifying the same class twice would be a waste of judicial resources. The Court agrees with Defendants.

         Section 216(b) of the FLSA provides a unique procedural mechanism allowing “collective” actions for minimum wage and/or overtime violations. Such actions “may be maintained against any employer . . . by any one or more employees for and on behalf of himself or themselves and other employees similarly situated.” 29 U.S.C. 216(b). Unlike class actions under Rule 23, a “collective class” under the FLSA includes only those individuals who expressly opt into the class in writing. Id.

         The Tenth Circuit has approved of the use of a two-step process for determining whether putative employees are “similarly situated” to the named plaintiff(s) for purposes of Section 216(b). See Thiessen v. Gen. Elec. Capital Corp., 267 F.3d 1095, 1102-1105 (10th Cir. 2001). Only the first stage is applicable here. At this stage, the Court makes an initial, so-called “Notice” determination of whether the named plaintiff(s) and the proposed opt-in class are “similarly situated.” Id. at 1102-03. This “‘require[s] nothing more than substantial allegations that the putative class members were together the victims of a single decision, policy, or plan.'” Id. at 1102.

         Plaintiff seeks conditional certification of the following class:

All individuals[2] who, during any time within the past three years, worked for some or all of the Defendants in the United States and were classified as non-employees pursuant to either any version of the attached Master Service Agreement (Exhibit C) or any similar contract.

(Doc. # 24 at 7.)

         In Pennsylvania the following FLSA collective class has already been conditionally certified:

All current and former mud engineers/drilling fluid consultants and solids control operators of the Q'Max/Patriot who were classified as independent contractors and paid a day-rate during the last three (3) years.

         Plaintiff does not dispute that the Pennsylvania collective class covers the same individuals that would be included in Plaintiff's proposed collective. (Doc. # 55 at 2.) Nor does Plaintiff dispute that the Defendants are the same in both actions (despite being named differently) and the FLSA claims are identical. (Id.) Instead, Plaintiff urges this Court to certify a duplicative FLSA collective class pursuant to Yates v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. 58 F.Supp.2d 1217 (D. Colo. 1999). The circumstances present in Yates, however, are not applicable here. There, the Court permitted a second collective action under the FLSA brought by plaintiffs who had received notice of the first collective action but failed to timely opt ...

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