Massachusetts District Court Grants Joint Motion To Decertify Class And Grants Defense Motion To Dismiss New Hampshire State Law Class Action Overtime Claims
Salaried employees filed a putative class action alleging that they were misclassified as exempt and seeking overtime pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq., and under New Hampshire state law. Trezvant v. Fidelity Employer Servs. Corp., 434 F.Supp.2d 40 (D. Mass. 2006). During the litigation, the Massachusetts federal district court granted plaintiffs’ motion to conditionally certify an FLSA class action, and a defense motion to dismiss the state law claims contained in the class action complaint. Later still, the district court granted a joint motion to decertify the class because only a few class members opted into the lawsuit. The court then issued a single memorandum discussing these rulings. Id., at 42.
First, the court explained that it conditionally certified the class because it utilized the “two-tier” approach followed by a majority of courts in Massachusetts. Trezvant, at 42-43. Under that test, “the court makes an initial determination of whether the potential class should receive notice of the pending action and then later, after discovery is complete, the court makes a final ‘similarly situated’ determination.” Id., at 42 (citation omitted). The court further explained that under this standard only a minimal showing need be made to support request to conditionally certify a class action. Id., at 43-44. The court rejected a defense argument that plaintiffs should be required to submit declarations from non-plaintiff employees as a prerequisite to conditional certification, id., at 44-45. The court then detailed its reasons for conditionally certifying the class, id., at 45-53, which we do not here summarize.
Next, the court explained that plaintiffs’ overtime pay claims under New Hampshire state law failed because New Hampshire expressly excludes employers governed by the FLSA. Trezvant, at 54-56. The court concluded further that, in any event, a class action would not be the appropriate vehicle for resolution of the state law overtime claims. Id., at 56 et seq.
NOTE: While the opinion states that it discusses each of the rulings listed above, for obvious reasons it did not mention further the ruling on the joint request to decertify the class.