United States District Court, D. New Jersey
DONALD MADDY, KURT FREDRICK, FREDRICK R. SHELLHAMMER, III, FRANK MICHIENZI, MARIO LAUREANO, ANOTHONY CHELPATY, WILLIAM MADDEN, STEVEN LE BLANC, JEFFREY SCOTT WILKERSON, JEFFREY NACARETTE, PHILLIP ERIC BENSON, BRADLEY PALMER, THOMAS KISS, Individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY, a New York corporation, Defendant
For Plaintiffs: Justin L. Swidler, Esq., Richard S. Swartz, Esq., SWARTZ SWIDLER, LLC, Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Robert D. Soloff, Esq., ROBERT D. SOLOFF, P.A., Plantation, Florida; ALLEN EICHENBAUM, Allen Eichenbaum, Esq., Plantation, Florida.
For General Electric Company, Defendant: Nina Markey, Esq., Rachel Fendell Satinsky, Esq., Aaron Reed, Esq., (pro hac vice), Daniel B. Boatright, Esq., (pro hac vice), LITTLER MENDELSON, P.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
HONORABLE Joseph E. Irenas, Senior United States District Judge.
Plaintiffs bring this putative collective action pursuant to § 216(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (" FLSA" ) to recover allegedly unpaid overtime compensation from Defendant General Electric Company (" Defendant" or " GE" ).
Currently pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for conditional collective action certification. For the reasons explained herein, Plaintiffs' motion is GRANTED.
The Court recites those facts relevant to deciding Plaintiff's pending motion for conditional certification.
Scope of Employment
Plaintiffs in this case are currently, or have worked as, service technicians for GE's Appliances Division, in a business segment called GE Consumer Home Service, since January 2011. (Plaintiff's Statement of Facts (" P.S.F." ) ¶ 1; Defendant's Opposition (" Def. Opp." ) at 2) GE's service technicians make service calls to customers' homes to repair GE appliances in 96 different " zones." (Def. Opp. at 2) These zones are further assigned to one of two regions - East or West. (Id.) Zones are supervised by 20 Consumer Service Managers (" CSMs" ), who typically manage three to eight zones. (Id.) Defendant presently employs 900 service technicians. (Id.) Over the last three years, Defendant has employed approximately 1,200 service technicians across the 96 zones. (Id.)
In 42 of the zones, service technicians are represented by various unions though collective bargaining agreements (" CBAs" ). (Id.) In the 54 non-union zones, service technicians participate in GE's " Solutions" alternative dispute resolution program. (Id.) As part of the Solutions program, non-union service technicians agree to resolve all disputes with GE through arbitration and to bring any claims against GE in an individual capacity only. (Id. at 2-3).
Service technicians receive an hourly wage, plus overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 per week, or as otherwise required by local law or applicable CBAs. (Declaration of Kristin Mathers (" Mathers Decl." ), Ex. A to Def. Opp., at ¶ 10) The procedures for notifying CSMs about and obtaining permission for overtime work vary across the different CSMs. (Def. Opp. at 6) Some CSMs require service technicians to ask for permission beforehand, while others ask only to be notified after service technicians work overtime. (Id.)
Service technicians self-report time worked on their company-issued laptops through an electronic time card system. (Id. ¶ 9) They record when they arrive at each service call and when each service call is completed. Defendant states that CSMs regularly direct service technicians to accurately report all working time. (Def. Opp. at 10)
During the relevant time period, GE's service technicians have operated under what Plaintiffs refer to as the Service Mobility System. Plaintiffs submitted an alleged " case study" of the system, which describes it as " management system for efficiently dispatching, scheduling, and communicating with operatives to boost efficiency and flexibility in delivering field services." (Service Mobility System Case Study, Ex. A to P.'s Memorandum of Law (" P.M.L." )) Service technicians connect to the system through their laptops, from which technicians can make and receive service calls, find information about the day's calls and necessary parts, and record work time. (P.M.L. at 1) GE also provides service technicians with company vans, which can be tracked by GPS. (Def. Opp. at 12) Service technicians generally park these vans at their homes, though some use secure parking spots near their homes. (Def. Opp. at 4)
GE monitors the performance of service technicians through a Revenue Per Day (" RPD" ) metric. (Mather Decl. ¶ 13) RPD
measures the revenue a service technician produces relative to the number of hours the technician works each day. (Id.) GE sets RPD goals in each zone, which service technicians are expected to meet. (Id.) RPD goals vary from zone to zone, but range from $700 to $815. (Id.) According to Defendant, RPDs are designed to be challenging, but attainable. (Def. Opp. at 8) If a service technician does not meet his RPD goal, a CSM may place him on a formal Personal Improvement Plan (" PIP" ). (Id. at 8-9) Plaintiffs state that the failure to improve after being placed on a PIP results in the termination of a service technician's employment. (P.S.F. ¶ 9)
John Wills, who manages the East Region of service technicians, states in his Declaration that service technicians are told that they need to perform all of their work-related activities after they arrive at their first call and before they leave their last call. (Declaration of John Wills (" Wills Decl." ), Ex. B to Def. Opp., at ¶ 6) On this basis, service technicians' paid time generally begins when they arrive at their first service calls and ends when they complete their last calls. Some CBAs permit service technicians to report driving time to the extent it exceeds a designated period of time (usually 30 minutes). (Def. Opp. at 5) Otherwise, non-union service technicians do not receive compensation for the time spent driving to their first call or home after their last call. (Id.)
Pre-Shift Computer Work
Despite the rule that service technicians' paid work does not begin until they arrive at their first customer call, there are certain tasks they must complete beforehand. Defendant submitted declarations from CSMs stating that service technicians are instructed to begin each day by putting their computers in their vans, and logging in to get their list of calls for the day. (Declaration of Rosa Walsh (" Walsh Decl." ), Ex. C to Def. Opp., at ¶ 5; Declaration of Robert Brinzer (" Brinzer Decl." ), Ex. D to Def. Opp., at ¶ 5; Declaration of Chris Miller (" Miller Decl." ), Ex. F to Def. Opp., at ¶ 6; Declaration of Mark Urbin (" Urbin Decl." ), Ex. L to Def. Opp., at ¶ 5) CSM Rosa Walsh states that service technicians can then either remain parked or begin driving while their computers boot up. (Walsh Decl. ¶ 5) Ms. Walsh states that, after their computers boot up, service technicians make contact with their first customer by cell phone or through the computer while en route to that customer's home. (Id.) Other CSMs state in declarations that service technicians can boot up computers to get their list of calls at home while eating breakfast or getting ready for work. (Declaration of Bobby Nelson (" Nelson Decl." ), Ex. E to Def. Opp., at ¶ 7; Declaration of Mike Andre (" Andre Decl." ), Ex. J to Def. Opp., at ¶ 7; Declaration of Windy Jones (" Jones Decl." ), Ex. K to Def. Opp., at ¶ 8)
Declarations from service technicians submitted by both Plaintiffs and Defendants indicate that service technicians generally log onto their computers and check their list of calls for the day before they leave their homes. (Declaration of Benny Pruiett (" Pruiett Decl." ), Ex. G to Def. Opp., at ¶ 6; Declaration of Dan McDermott (" McDermott Decl." ), Ex. H to Def. Opp., at ¶ 6; Declarations of Lance Bergman
(" Bergman Decl." ) ¶ ¶ 16-17, Anthony Chelpaty (" Chelpaty Decl." ) ¶ ¶ 16-17, Kurt Frederick (Frederick Decl." ) ¶ ¶ 16-17, David Leppo (" Leppo Decl." ) ¶ ¶ 16-17, Donald Maddy (" Maddy Decl." ) ¶ ¶ 16-17, and Jacob Walters (" Walters Decl." ) ¶ ¶ 16-17, all attached as Ex. B to P.M.L.) These service technicians also state that, upon logging into their computers, they also check to see if there are any ...