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Totte v. Quick Lane Oil & Lube, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 29, 2017

TOM TOTTE, CODY HITCH and JOHN MERRELL, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
QUICK LANE OIL & LUBE, INC., a Michigan for-profit company, and TALHA HARES, its owner, Defendants.

          DECISION GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR CONDITIONAL CERTIFICATION OF A COLLECTIVE ACTION UNDER THE FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT, (Doc. 7)

          AVERN COHN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         A. The Case

         This is a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) case. Plaintiffs Tom Totte, Cody Hitch and John Merrell are former employees of Defendant Quick Lane Oil & Lube, Inc. (Quick Lane), an oil change business. Quick Lane operates two locations, each in southeast Michigan. Plaintiffs are suing Quick Lane and its owner Talha Hares for failure to compensate them properly for all time worked.

         Plaintiffs first assert overtime violations. They say Totte and Hitch received a weekly salary that was not equivalent to minimum wage plus overtime pay for hours worked. Additionally, Totte and Merrell received hourly wages that did not account for all time worked including overtime. Second, plaintiffs assert failure to pay minimum wage. They say Hitch and Merrell received a weekly salary, and hourly wages, at a rate of pay less than the minimum wage ($7.25) for hours worked.[1]

         B. Procedural History and Motion

         On August 2, 2016, plaintiffs filed their complaint. (Doc. 1). Attached were time sheets and/or paystubs of Quick Lane for Totte, Hitch and Merrell.

         On October 4, 2016, plaintiffs filed a pre-discovery motion for conditional certification of a collective action, defined below, under the FLSA. (Doc. 7).[2] In support, they attached (1) declarations of Totte and Hitch regarding pay and hours at Quick Lane; and (2) Quick Lane time sheets and/or paystubs for Totte, Hitch and Merrell.

         As instructed by the Court, the parties have also submitted matrices of hours worked and pay received, by week, for each plaintiff. (See attached Exhibits A, B).[3]

         On November 23, 2016, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. (Doc. 15). On February 8, 2017, each defendant answered separately. (Docs. 24, 25, 26).

         C. Disposition of Motion

          For the reasons explained below, plaintiffs' motion is GRANTED. The Court will separately enter an order regarding collective action procedures attached to which will be the form of the opt-in notice to be sent to potential plaintiffs.

         Within 30 days of entry of this decision, plaintiffs, after conferring with defendants, shall lodge with the Court a draft of the proposed order and form of notice. If there are objections, within 21 days of receipt, defendants shall lodge with the Court a redlined version with additions, deletions or modifications to the text in another color.

         II. COMPLAINT AND ANSWER

         In the complaint and answer the parties dispute key facts relating to plaintiffs' pay and hours while working at Quick Lane. They are summarized below, by plaintiff.

         A. Tom Totte

         1. Employee Classification

          Totte was employed as an oil change technician, i.e., an hourly employee not exempt under the FLSA. (Doc. 15 ¶¶ 16, 21). Defendants say he was a manager and exempt. (Doc. 24 ¶ 7).

         2. Salary

         Totte was paid a weekly salary of $450, by check, from 2013 to December 2015. (Doc. 15 ¶ 17). Defendants say he was paid $700 per week (excluding bonuses), $450 by check and the rest in cash. (Doc. 24 ¶ 17).[4]

         3. Hourly Pay

         For December 2015, Totte was paid, by check, an hourly rate of $8.15, and then $8.75 for January 2016 and on. (Doc. 15 ¶¶ 18-20). Defendants say he “received a check based on the number of hours he worked at minimum wage and . . . the balance . . . in cash.” (Doc. 24 ¶ 17).

         4. Hours

         Totte “regularly” was not paid for all hours worked, as shown in his time sheets, including for overtime. (Doc. 15 ¶¶ 24-27). Defendants “den[y] . . . Totte worked any hours for which he was not compensated.” (Doc. 24 ¶ 27).

         B. Cody Hitch 1. Job Description

          Hitch is an oil change technician. (Doc. 15 ¶ 8). Defendants say he is a “greeter” of customers who does not change oil. (Doc. 24 ¶ 8; see also Doc. 27 at 10).

         2. Pay

         Hitch was paid a weekly salary of $350, all in cash, during his employment. (Doc. 15 ¶ 31). Defendants say Hitch was paid $450 per week (excluding bonuses), all in cash, during his employment. (Doc. 24 ¶ 31).

         3. Hours

         Hitch was underpaid as he “regularly” worked over 40 hours per week. (Doc. 15 ¶¶ 32-33). Defendants deny this. (Doc. 24 ¶¶ 32-33).

         C. John Merrell

         1. ...


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