United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
SUHAIL ALI, SHALAN ALMANSOOB, QASEM SALEH, and KASSEM DUBAISHI, on behalf of themselves and all other persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
PIRON, LLC, STEVE HANNAH, CRAIG MONROE, REYNOLDS QUALITY INSTALLATIONS, LLC, RODERICK REYNOLDS JR., AERO COMMUNICATIONS, INC. and COMCAST CABLE COMMUNICATIONS MANAGEMENT, LLC, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING, IN PART, AND DENYING, IN
PART, PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO CERTIFY CLASS (ECF NO.
V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Plaintiffs Suhail Ali, Shalan
Almansoob, Qasem Saleh, and Kassem Dubaishi (collectively
“Plaintiffs”) filed this putative class action
lawsuit against Defendants (1) Piron, LLC, (2) Steve Hannah,
(3) Craig Monroe, (4) Reynolds Quality Installations, LLC,
(5) Roderick Reynolds Jr., (6) Aero Communications, Inc., and
(7) Comcast Cable Communications Management, LLC
(collectively “Defendants”) on March 30, 2017,
alleging minimum wage and overtime wage violations of the
Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C.
§ 201, et seq. Plaintiffs allege that
Defendants are joint employers who misclassified Plaintiffs
as independent contractors in order to circumvent the
protections of FLSA. Presently before the Court is
Plaintiffs' Motion to Certify Class, filed May 9, 2017.
(ECF No. 4.) The motion has been fully briefed. For the
reasons stated below, the Court grants, in part, and denies,
in part, Plaintiffs' motion.
Factual and Procedural History
Comcast Cable Communications Management, LLC
(“Comcast”) is a global media and technology
provider of video, high-speed Internet, and phone services.
(ECF No. 1 at Pg ID 4.) To expand its services and enlarge
its Michigan customer base, Comcast subcontracted its cable
installation and repair services to Aero Communications, Inc.
(“Aero”). (Id. at Pg ID 9.) To meet
Comcast's business demands, Aero contracted with Piron,
LLC (“Piron”), owned and operated by Steve Hannah
(“Hannah”), and Reynolds Quality Installations,
LLC (“Reynolds Installations”), which is owned
and operated by Roderick Reynolds Jr.
(“Reynolds”), who provided cable technicians for
Comcast's repair and installation services. (Id.
at Pg ID 9.)
learned of the cable technician positions from Craig Monroe
(“Monroe”), one of Piron's corporate
officers, and submitted applications for employment. (Suhail
Ali Decl., at ¶ 2, ECF No. 1-5.) According to
Plaintiffs', Prion employee, Tod Debeaux, interviewed
Plaintiffs for the positions. (Ali Decl., at ¶ 3, ECF
No. 1-5.) Plaintiffs stated Comcast required them to complete
and pass a background check before they could begin work.
(Shalan Almansoob Decl., at ¶ 2, ECF No. 1-6; Qasem
Saleh Decl., at ¶ 1, ECF No. 1-7; Kassem Dubaishi Decl.,
at ¶ 1, ECF No. 1-8.) Upon completing and passing
Comcast's background check, Plaintiffs received badges
with Comcast's and Aero's logos and were given a
Piron employee handbook. (ECF No. 1 at Pg ID 11; Ali Decl.,
at ¶ 11, ECF No. 1-5; Almansoob Decl., at ¶ 5, ECF
No. 1-6; Saleh Decl., at ¶ 1, ECF No. 1-7; Dubaishi
Decl., at ¶ 1, ECF No. 1-8.) Plaintiffs allege they wore
uniforms subject to Comcast's standards. (ECF No. 1 at Pg
Aero provided the cable technician equipment, each workday,
Plaintiffs were required to report to Aero's warehouse
before responding to any service requests. (ECF No. 1 at Pg
ID 14.) Plaintiffs returned to Aero's warehouse at the
conclusion of the workday to return their equipment.
(Id.) Comcast assigned the service jobs and work
routes through a Comcast application, TechNet, which directed
Plaintiffs to the work locations and informed them of the
type of service needed. (Id. at Pg ID 13.) After
completing service requests, Plaintiffs charged the
customers, using Aero's billing software, FIP Mobile.
field, Monroe and Reynolds monitored Plaintiffs.
(Id. at Pg ID 15; Saleh Decl., at ¶ 9, ECF No.
1-7; Dubaishi Decl., at ¶ 9, ECF No. 1-8.) If any
technical difficulties arose during the job assignment,
Plaintiffs first contacted their direct supervisors, Monroe
and Reynolds, and then Comcast's Tech Support Center.
(Id. at Pg ID 15; see also Ali Decl., at
¶ 12, ECF No. 1-5.) Monroe and Reynolds were responsible
for disciplining Plaintiffs as well. (ECF No. 1 at Pg ID 15.)
to Plaintiffs, both Piron and Reynolds Installations paid
them. (ECF No. 1 at Pg ID 9.) Plaintiffs allege the pay was
inconsistent and varied in the form of cash, personal checks
and money orders. (ECF No. 1 at Pg ID 15.)
Plaintiffs stated they never received time records and were
charged for unsatisfactory services, including charges for
faulty equipment and unhappy customers. (Id. at Pg
ID 16.) Plaintiffs allege they worked at least twelve-hour
shifts, six days a week but were not paid minimum wage and
did not receive overtime wages. (Id. at Pg ID 11.)
Plaintiffs stated they regularly would overhear Piron
employees complaining of their pay, specifically Mario Welch
and Keith Jones. (ECF No. 28 at Pg ID 1733; ECF No. 29 at Pg
ID 1736; ECF No. 30 at Pg ID 1748; ECF No. 31 at Pg ID 1748.)
eventually ended their employment with Defendants and
initiated this putative class action lawsuit on March 30,
2017. Plaintiffs allege Defendants are joint employers who
misclassified Plaintiffs as independent contractors. (ECF No.
1 at Pg ID 2.) According to Plaintiffs, Defendants owe
Plaintiffs minimum wage and overtime wage benefits for
willfully violating FLSA. (Id. at Pg ID 16-17.)
9, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a motion for conditional class
certification. (ECF No. 4.) Piron, Hannah, and Comcast filed
responses on July 10, 2017. (ECF Nos. 25, 26, & 27.)
Plaintiffs filed reply briefs on July 24, 2017. (ECF Nos. 32
& 33.) To further support its position for limiting the
potential class, on August 15, 2017, Comcast filed a brief
with new authority. (ECF No. 35.) In Plaintiffs' reply
briefs, Plaintiffs attached amended declarations alleging
Plaintiffs had personal knowledge of Piron's pay
practices and policies. In response, on January 11, 2018 and
with leave of Court, Comcast filed a supplemental brief. (ECF
No. 66.) On January 25, 2018, also with leave of Court,
Plaintiffs' filed a response to Comcast's
supplemental brief. (ECF No. 68.)
October 12, 2017, the clerk entered default against Monroe
for failing to respond to the Complaint, and at
Plaintiffs' request, the Court reserved on default
judgment. (ECF Nos. 47 & 51.) On February 12, 2018 and
February 13, 2018, in response to the Court's Show Cause
Order, Plaintiffs filed proof of service for Reynolds and
Reynolds Installations. (ECF Nos. 72 & 74.) Neither
Reynolds nor Reynolds Installations has filed a response to
either the complaint or the motion to certify.
FLSA requires all qualifying employers to pay employees no
less than the minimum wage and to compensate employees for
hours worked in excess of forty per work week at a rate not
less than one-and-a-half times the regular rate of pay. 29
U.S.C. §§ 206(a)(1), 207(a)(1). The statute
authorizes collective actions to recover damages for unpaid
wages provided two conditions are satisfied: (1) the
employees are “similarly situated” and (2) all
plaintiffs provide written consent to becoming a party and
such consent is filed with the court. 29 U.S.C. §
216(b). “This section provides a mechanism that is
‘something akin to a class action.'”
Torres v. Gristede's Operating Corp., No.
04-cv-3316, 2006 WL 2819730, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 29, 2006)
(citing Scholtisek v. Eldre Corp., 229 F.R.D. 381,
386 (W.D.N.Y. 2005)). Nevertheless, there are differences
between a FLSA collective action and a class action certified
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23:
(1) the collective action binds only potential plaintiffs who
“opt-in, ” whereas Rule 23 requires class members
to opt-out, if they wish not to be included; and (2) FLSA
only requires employees be “similarly situated, ”
whereas Rule 23 requirements are more detailed. Sipas v.
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