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Shaw v. Jaguar Hydrostatic Testing, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division

September 5, 2017

GEROME SHAW, et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
JAGUAR HYDROSTATIC TESTING, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Hilda Tagle, Senior United States District Judge

         The Court has before it Plaintiff Gerome Shaw's (“Shaw”) Opposed Motion for Conditional Class Certification and Notice in this putative collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. Dkt. No. 11. After considering the motion, the complaint, the accompanying evidence, the parties' arguments, and the applicable law, the Court GRANTS Shaw's motion.

         I. Background

         On August 27, 2015, Shaw filed this FLSA collective action lawsuit on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated to recover unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages, attorney's fees, and costs owed to current and former Junior Operators, Operators, Field Operators and Pressure Testers who worked for Defendant Jaguar Hydrostatic Testing, LLC, (“Jaguar”) over the past three years. See generally Compl., Dkt. No. 1.

         Shaw is a former employee of Jaguar who worked as a “Field Operator/Pressure Tester” for Jaguar from April 2011 to March 2014. Compl. ¶ 5; Shaw Dec, Dkt. No. 11-1, ¶ 1. Jaguar is a Texas limited liability company offering hydrostatic testing services to oil and gas operators in the United States. Jaguar has locations in Pennsylvania and Texas. Dkt. No. 11 at ¶ 5.[1] When Shaw first started work with Jaguar, he worked exclusively in Pennsylvania. Shaw Dep., Dkt. No. 35 Ex. E at 29:4-30:5. Over two years later, he began working in the Midland/Odessa area of Texas. Id. at 30:11-17. Shaw testified that he would fly to Texas and work for twenty-one days at a time before returning to Pennsylvania for nine days. Id. at 50:16-22.

         Shaw's duties included maintaining and servicing oil and gas production facilities and overseeing the testing and monitoring of wells, pumps, storage facilities and other pressure control equipment. Compl. ¶ 5. He alleges that he was a non-exempt employee, id. ¶ 10, and that Jaguar paid him on a salary basis plus a day rate (or bonus), but did not pay Shaw overtime for hours worked over forty hours in a workweek. Id. at ¶ 6. Shaw alleges that he often worked in excess of eighty hours and sometimes in excess of one-hundred hours per week. Id. at ¶ 10.[2]

         Shaw alleges that other employees have also been denied overtime hours in violation of the FLSA. Id. at ¶ 12. Shaw provides that he “is aware that Defendant made a regular practice of not paying the required overtime premium for hours worked over 40 in a workweek, but paid several different categories of employees on the same basis: salary plus a day-rate.” Id.

         Shaw seeks conditional certification of and notice to:

All individuals who were employed by Jaguar Hydrostatic Testing, LLC. during the past three (3) years as Junior Operators, Operators, Field Operators and Pressure testers, who were paid a base salary and a day-rate/job bonus with no overtime compensation.

Dkt. No. 11 at ¶ 23 (providing the language of the requested notice).

         Shaw also seeks a judgment against Jaguar for an amount equal to Shaw's and the members of the purported class's unpaid overtime wages, an amount equal to the overtime wage damages as liquidated damages (and to the extent that liquidated damages are not awarded, an award of prejudgment interest), and all costs and attorney's fees incurred. Compl. at 5 (Prayer for Relief).

         Since the filing of the lawsuit, six individuals-Diego Alberto Meza (“D.A. Meza”), Juan Diego Meza (“J.D. Meza”), Joe Derrick Silos (“Silos”), Frank Rodriguez (“Rodriguez”), Joe Prado, and Joel Prado-have filed notices to opt into the lawsuit. See Dkt. Nos. 3, 10, 21, 39. D.A. Meza declares that he was a “Junior Operator/Field Operator/Pressure Tester” from October 2011 to September 2013. D.A. Meza Dec, Dkt. No. 11 Ex. 2 at ¶ 3. D.A. Meza worked in Texas and Pennsylvania. D.A. Meza Dep., Dkt. No. 35 Ex. A at 36:13-18. J.D. Meza declares that he was a “Field Operator/Pressure Tester” from October 2011 to September 2013. J.D. Meza Dec, Dkt. No. 11 Ex. 3 at ¶ 3. He worked in Texas and Pennsylvania. J.D. Meza Dep., Dkt. No. 35 Ex. B at 22:7-17. Rodriguez declares that he was a “Lubricator/Pressure Testing Operator” from June 2014 to February 19, 2016. Dkt. No. 30 Ex. 1 at ¶ 1.[3] He worked in Texas and New Mexico. Rodrigeuz Dep., Dkt. No. 35 Ex. C at 69:9-11. Shaw did not file declarations of Silos, Joe Prado, or Joel Prado.

         On July 18, 2017, this Court ordered supplemental briefing from Jaguar asking for:

• The estimated number of employees that fall into the categories of Junior Operator, Operator, Field Operator, and Pressure Tester for the three-year period of time for which Shaw seeks conditional certification.
• The employment classification (“exempt” or “nonexempt”) of each of the above-mentioned positions; and
• The geographic locations in which Jaguar hired each of the above-mentioned positions.

         Order (July 18, 2017), Dkt. No. 49. The Court also gave Plaintiffs an opportunity to respond.

         II. Legal Rule

         “The FLSA establishes federal minimum-wage, maximum-hour, and overtime guarantees that cannot be modified by contract.” Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk, 133 S.Ct. 1523, 1527 (2013). Nonexempt employees are entitled to overtime pay calculated at one and one half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of forty in a workweek. 29 U.S.C. § 207 (2016). Section 216(b) creates a cause of action for employees against employers violating FLSA requirements.

An action . . . may be maintained . . . by any one or more employees for and in behalf of himself or themselves and other employees similarly situated. No employee shall be a party plaintiff to any such action unless he gives his consent in writing to become such a party and ...

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