NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana judge has ordered a conditional class action certification against a staffing agency.
In a March 1 order, Judge Eldon Fallon approved the class action in Damian Horton v. Global Staffing Solutions LLC (GSS) alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Louisiana Payday Law.
Horton alleges that GSS’ failure to pay him regular and overtime wages is the usual practice of the staffing agency owned by Forrest Bethay, III, who denies Horton’s allegations, along with his request for missing regular and overtime wages and statutory damages based on “failure to state a claim, statute of limitations, ratification, failure to mitigate damages, and good faith,” according to the order.
Furthermore, “Global argues that the named Plaintiffs are different from its regular staff because Plaintiffs were hired for a short-term relief project,” according to the order. “Defendants also argue that online reviews are not sufficient evidence of numerosity because counsel does not have personal knowledge of the information in these reviews.”
GSS also counters the class-action complaint stating, “Defendants argue that even the named Plaintiffs complain of different issues because one alleges a delayed paycheck and three allege not receiving a paycheck at all,” according to the order. GSS added that if Fallon were to deem a class action it should only allow plaintiffs with equally sited assertions.
In Fallon’s evaluation of the law, the judge begins noting Mooney v. Aramco Servs. Co. 1995 and two-stage process used to determine class certification.
“Under this two-step process, the first determination is made at the so-called 'notice stage," the order states. "At the notice stage, the district court makes a decision whether notice should be given to potential class members based on the pleadings, affidavits, and any other evidence which has been submitted. The second determination typically occurs after the defendant files a motion for 'decertification' after discovery is largely complete.”
Noting Norton’s case is at the notice stage, Fallon deems the plaintiff has met the burden by affidavit and online reviews.
“While Plaintiff would be on more solid ground for the next stage were he to have more evidence, the threshold for conditional certification of a collective class under the FLSA is minimal evidence and the Court believes that, at this stage, close calls should favor the plaintiff,” Fallon writes in the order.
Fallon ruled that class-action certification could include any GSS employees hired between Nov. 16, 2014 and 60 days from the order being mailed and no later than 30 days after the date of the order. The class includes anyone who was "not timely paid for all hours worked, including overtime and minimum wage" according to the order, adding GSS also must provide Horton’s lawyer with all the names, addresses, telephone number and dates of employment of the former staffers who may be counted in the suit.