Court again denies class-action certification in FLSA lawsuit against Associated Wholesale Grocers

By Charmaine Little | May 7, 2019

NEW ORLEANS – On April 25, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana denied a class action’s second motion for conditional certification and another motion for reconsideration that granted an employer its motion to dismiss opt-in plaintiffs in its Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo ruled on the case.

Michael Piazza sued Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc. (AWG) on behalf of himself and others in his situation. Piazza, who worked as a forklift operator and loader, accused AWG of reducing the 30-minute lunch break from his and other AWG employees’ timesheets, violating FLSA. He alleged AWG was fully aware that the workers forfeited their lunch breaks and worked through them. Ultimately, Piazza said the reduction caused him and his coworkers to not be paid the full amount they worked in overtime.

The court had already denied Piazza’s motion for class certification because he failed to prove the possible class members were actually victims of any illegal behavior performed by AWG. By now, more than 24 people joined the suit as opt-in plaintiffs. The defendant then filed its own motion to dismiss opt-in plaintiffs from the case. Piazza filed a second motion for reconsideration. Both his and AWG motions are what the court ruled on as it denied Piazza’s but granted AWG’s.

U.S. District Court Jane Triche Milazzo  

“Plaintiff still must produce substantial allegations that the potential class members were together the victims of a single unlawful policy or practice by their employer," Milazzo ruled. "Plaintiff failed to do this in his first motion for conditional certification. He fails to do so here, too.” 

The court already determined that Piazza wouldn’t be granted his certification until he was able to prove potential class members are actually similarly situated compared to him. Statements that said AWG didn’t tell employees about their ability to correct timesheets isn’t enough, the court determined as it denied his motion.

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