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Bass v. City of Dallas

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

April 24, 2019

TERRANCE BASS, BARRY BOYD, ELIZABETH LOPEZ, and JOSEPH SCOTT, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE CITY OF DALLAS and JOHN DOES 1-5, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KAREN GREN SCHOLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Conditional Certification [ECF No. 64]. For the following reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in part the Motion, I. BACKGROUND

         Pursuant to Special Order 3-249, this case was transferred from the docket of Judge Sam R, Cummings to the docket of this Court on March 21, 2018.

         This action arises out of alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and Title Two of the Texas Labor Code ("TLC"). Plaintiffs were employees of the City of Dallas ("Defendant").[1] Compl. ¶ 29, Terrance Bass, Barry Boyd, Elizabeth Lopez, and Joseph Scott (collectively, "Named Plaintiffs") sue on behalf of employees working "in different positions and for a variety of different departments." Id. ¶ 30. The Named Plaintiffs all worked in the Neighborhood Code Division in the Code Compliance Department. Def.'s Resp. 20; see also Compl. ¶¶ 63, 78, 93, 107.

         Plaintiffs allegedly worked more than 40 hours per week. Compl. ¶ 31. They claim that rather than compensating them with an overtime premium, Defendant required them to take "comp time." Id. ¶ 32. This purported '"comp time' scheme" required all Plaintiffs to take one hour off the second week of their biweekly pay period for every hour they worked in excess of 40 during the first week of the pay period. Id. ¶ 33. For example, if a Plaintiff worked 45 hours the first week of the pay period, he or she allegedly was required to work no more than 35 hours during the second week of the pay period. Id. Further, Plaintiffs allegedly were required to use their comp time in the same pay period in which it accrued. Id. ¶ 35.

         Non-exempt employees of Defendant's code compliance department ("CCEs") were assigned to different districts throughout the City of Dallas. Id. ¶ 38; see also Pis.' Mot. for Conditional Certification ("Pis.' Mot.") 2 (defining "CCEs"). CCEs were given one hour per workday for a meal break. Compl. ¶ 40. Defendant allegedly did not pay CCEs for their meal break periods. Id. ¶ 43. CCEs recorded their hours by writing and initialing the time they began and ended their shifts on a sign in/sign out sheet. Id. ¶ 41. CCEs were paid every two weeks and were compensated on an hourly basis. Id. ¶¶ 45-46.

         Plaintiffs allege that Defendant issued cellphones to CCEs and required that CCEs remain accessible via cellphone throughout the workday. Id. ¶¶ 48-49. According to Plaintiffs, Defendant required that CCEs remain accessible via cellphone during meal break periods, Id. ¶ 50, CCEs allegedly answered phone calls and had work-related discussions lasting between five to forty-five minutes per meal break period. Id. ¶ 51. Plaintiffs allege that CCEs were not paid for working during their meal break periods. Id. ¶¶ 53-54.

         Plaintiffs also allege that Defendant issued CCEs laptops and required CCEs to respond to work-related emails and finish their caseload. Id. ¶¶ 55-56. To do so, CCEs claim they worked from home. Id. ¶ 57, Plaintiffs contend that Defendant knew CCEs worked from home because each email had a time stamp indicating when it was sent, and each code violation case had a time stamp indicating when it was uploaded or completed. Id. ¶ 58. CCEs worked at home five to ten hours per workweek. Id. ¶ 59. Defendant allegedly did not compensate CCEs for these hours. Id. ¶¶ 61-62.

         Plaintiffs allege that the above conduct violates federal and state overtime and minimum wage laws. Named Plaintiffs seek to certify two collectives, The first, the FLSA Overtime Collective, is defined as follows:

[A]ll persons (including, but not limited to, all-non-exempt employees in Defendants' Code Compliance Department) who are and were employed by the City of Dallas as non-exempt employees during the past three (3) years through the final date of the disposition of this action who received compensatory time in lieu of overtime at ¶ 1:1 "straight time" ratio for hours worked in excess of forty (4) hours per workweek[.]

         Pis.'Mot. l;Compl.¶¶7, 123.

         The second, the FLSA Minimum Wage Collective, is more narrowly defined:

[A]ll persons who are and were employed by the City of Dallas as inspectors, supervisors, and neighborhood code representatives employed in Defendants' Code Compliance Department during the past three (3) years through the final date of the disposition of this action who were required to work ...

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