Macy’s Department Store Cleaners Granted Class Certification In Failure To Pay Case

Like many companies, Macy’s Department Stores use outside cleaning companies to clean the stores after hours. In Minnesota, a federal court granted the cleaning crew members’ request for class certification against one of these outside cleaning companies so that other crew members could join the failure to pay and overtime lawsuit. The cleaners allege that the cleaning company routinely failed to pay them minimum wage and overtime as well as failed to pay for time worked through meal breaks. One employee alleged that one of her paychecks resulted in pay of just over $4 per hour. The cleaners also alleged that the cleaning company allotted a set amount of time to clean each store and if the cleaners took more time than allotted they were not paid for the extra time.

While the federal court has yet ruled on whether the cleaning company is liable for unpaid wages and overtime, it did rule that the case could proceed as a collective action and other employees would be permitted to join the case. The court stated:

The FLSA authorizes employees to bring a collective action against employers for minimum wage and overtime violations. Courts have discretion, in “appropriate cases,” to facilitate the opt-in process by conditionally certifying a class and authorizing court-supervised notice to potential opt-in plaintiffs. To proceed with a collective action, plaintiffs must demonstrate that they are similarly situated to the proposed FLSA class. Determining whether plaintiffs are similarly situated to the proposed class requires a two-step inquiry. First, the court determines whether the class should be conditionally certified for notification and discovery purposes. The plaintiffs need only establish at that time a colorable basis for their claim that the putative class members were the victims of a single decision, policy, or plan. Determination of class status at the notice stage is granted liberally because the court has minimal evidence for analyzing the class.

(all internal citations omitted). The cleaners provided evidence to the court that (1) they perform the same job duties–they clean Macy’s and Herberger’s department stores; (2) they work in the same state under the same district manager(s); (3) they are subject to identical payroll and timekeeping policies created by cleaning company’s corporate office; and (4) they are subject to a common plan or practice of the cleaning company’s under reporting of hours and failure to pay employees for all regular and overtime work. Based upon this evidence the court granted the employees’ request that the case be certified and notice be sent to all other cleaners with information about how to join the case.

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