United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
STEPHANIE ROSALES, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
EQUINOX HOLDINGS, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J..BOYLE UMTED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Conditional
Certification of FLSA Collective Action and for Issuance of
Notice. Doc. 25, Mot. For the following reasons, the Court
GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART the motion
as described below.
a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) case brought by Stephanie
Rosales, on behalf of herself and all other similarly
situated employees, against Equinox Holdings, Inc., her
former employer. Rosales, a personal trainer and former
employee at the gym Equinox, seeks unpaid wages for
off-the-clock and overtime work. Doc. 1, Compl., ¶ 2.
of her suit to recover unpaid wages, Rosales now seeks
conditional certification. Specifically, she seeks nationwide
certification for a class of personal trainers who allegedly
were paid in violation of the FLSA. Doc. 34, Rosales's
Reply, 9. Equinox maintains 93 gyms across the United States,
and additional gyms internationally. Doc. 31, Equinox's
App., 153 (Laird Decl.), ¶ 4. In Dallas, there are two
gyms-one in Highland Park and one in Preston Hollow. Rosales
worked at the Highland Park location from approximately March
2017 through December 2017. Doc. 1, Compl., ¶ 17; Doc.
25-7, Ex. G. She visited the Preston Hollow location for an
initial group interview and for occasional employee training,
but did not work at that location. Doc. 31, Equinox's
App., 14 at 10:21-25 & 56 at 52:1-53:12 (Rosales Dep.).
filed suit on February 13, 2018. Since then, two opt-in
plaintiffs have consented to join in Rosales's suit:
Kendall Harper and Guy Seaman. Doc. 15, Notice of Consent.
Like Rosales, Seaman also worked at the Highland Park
location and only once visited the Preston Hollow location
for an employee training class. Doc. 31, Equinox's App.,
131 at 50:1-17 (Seaman Dep.). Harper, another personal
trainer, submitted a form notice of consent, but it is
unclear where he worked. Doc. 25-5, Ex. E (Harper Decl.).
Together, they allege that Equinox has a policy of demanding
off-the-clock hours, and a compensation scheme that does not
comply with FLSA's overtime requirements. Doc. 25, Mot.,
discovery was conducted before Rosales filed her Motion for
Conditional Certification on February 28, 2019. Depositions
of both Rosales and Seaman have been taken, and documents
have been produced by both sides, a number of which Equinox
attached to its response to Rosales's motion.
See Doc. 30, Equinox's Resp., 12 (describing
discovery already conducted). Rosales replied on April 11,
2019; thus the motion is ripe for review.
216(b) of the FLSA “authorizes a plaintiff to bring a
collective action on behalf of similarly situated persons,
provided that any person who desires to become a part of the
collective action files a written consent in the
court.” Valcho v. Dall. Cty. Hosp. Dist., 574
F.Supp.2d 618, 621 (N.D. Tex. 2008). When a plaintiff seeks
to bring a collective action, district courts have the
discretion to implement § 216(b) by facilitating notice
to potential plaintiffs. Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. v.
Sperling, 493 U.S. 165, 169 (1989).
FLSA authorizes a plaintiff to bring an action on behalf of
similarly situated persons, but the FLSA does not define
“similarly situated.” And the Fifth Circuit has
declined to adopt any specific test to determine when
plaintiffs are similarly situated. Acevedo v.
Allsup's Convenience Stores, Inc., 600 F.3d 516, 519
n.1 (5th Cir. 2010). But district courts in the Northern
District of Texas have adopted the two-step approach outlined
in Lusardi v. Xerox Corp., 118 F.R.D. 351 (D.N.J.
1987), which consists of a notice stage and a decertification
stage. See, e.g., Ecoquij-Tzep v. Hawaiian
Grill, 2017 WL 2672328, at *2 (N.D. Tex. June 21, 2017).
the Lusardi approach, the first step-the notice
stage-requires a preliminary determination, usually based
only on the pleadings and submitted affidavits, of whether
potential class members are similarly situated to the named
plaintiff. Mooney v. Aramco Servs. Co., 54 F.3d
1207, 1213-14 (5th Cir. 1995). If they are similarly
situated, then the court can conditionally certify the action
and authorize notice to potential plaintiffs to opt in, and
the suit “proceeds as a representative action
throughout discovery.” Id. at 1214. After
discovery is largely complete, the defendant may move for
decertification, at which point the court proceeds to the
second step-the decertification stage-and considers again
whether the plaintiffs are similarly situated. Id.
If the court finds that the plaintiffs who opted in are not
similarly situated with the named plaintiff, then the class
is decertified, the opt-in plaintiffs are dismissed without
prejudice, and the original named plaintiff proceeds to trial
on her individual claims. Id. at 1213-14.
notice stage, a court usually has minimal evidence, so
“the determination is made using a fairly lenient
standard and typically results in conditional certification
of a representative class.” Jones v. SuperMedia
Inc., 281 F.R.D. 282, 287 (N.D. Tex. 2012). Courts
generally “require nothing more than substantial
allegations that the putative class members were together
victims of a single decision, policy, or plan.”
Mooney, 54 F.3d at 1214 n.8. A factual basis,
however, must exist, and a plaintiff must show some
“identifiable facts or legal nexus that binds the
claims so that hearing the cases together promotes judicial
efficiency.” Jones, 281 F.R.D. at 287. In
conducting its analysis, the court has “a
responsibility to avoid the ‘stirring up' of
litigation through unwarranted solicitation.”
Valcho, 574 F.Supp.2d at 622.
do not often engage in the second step-the decertification
process-until after “discovery is largely complete and
the matter is ready for trial. At this stage, the court has
much more information on which to base its decision, and
makes a factual determination on the similarly situated
question.” Mooney, 54 F.3d at 1214. But there
are circumstances in which courts will skip the first,
lenient analysis. For example, if parties have already
conducted discovery on the certification issue, courts have
less cause for leniency during the “notice” phase
and may choose to apply a more stringent standard.
Valcho, 574 F.Supp.2d at 622; Basco v. Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc., 2004 WL 1497709, at *4 (E.D. La. July 2,
2004) (“[I]n light of the substantial discovery that
has occurred in this matter, the Court will consider the
criteria for both the first and second steps in deciding
whether it should certify [the] matter.”).