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Christine Curry, Todd Schiltz v. Kraft Foods Global

September 12, 2011

CHRISTINE CURRY, TODD SCHILTZ, ANTHONY THOMPSON, DAVID LENOCI, THOMAS SHERIDAN, TERRY T. GIBSON, MARGARET KEY, FELIX KASKIE, ESTELA DIEHL AND ROBERT KMIECIK, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
KRAFT FOODS GLOBAL, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Christine Curry, Todd Schiltz, Anthony Thompson, David Lenoci, Thomas Sheridan, Terry T. Gibson, Margaret Key, Felix Kaskie, Estela Diehl, and Robert Kmiecik (collectively "Plaintiffs"), on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, sued Defendant Kraft Foods Global, Inc. ("Kraft") for failure to pay them for time spent donning and doffing protective equipment before and after their work shifts. Plaintiffs claim in Count I that Kraft violated the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, 820 ILCS 105/1 et seq. ("IMWL"), and in Count II the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act ("IWPCA"), 820 ILCS 115/1 et seq., for non-payment of full wages for hours worked during the three years immediately preceding filing of the Complaint. Plaintiffs now move under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 for certification as a class action. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiffs' Motion to Certify the Class.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs are hourly employees at Kraft's Naperville, Illinois facility. (Compl. ¶¶ 4, 5.) In performing their daily duties, Plaintiffs were required to wear certain personal protective equipment, including but not limited to safety footwear, earplugs, and hard hats. (Id. ¶ 5.) It takes some time to put on ("don") and take off ("doff") the protective equipment at the beginning and end of each shift. (Id. ¶¶ 5-7.) Plaintiffs claim that Kraft has not counted the donning and doffing as part of their "Work Time," so as a result they never received compensation for this time. (Id. ¶ 11.) Because Plaintiffs were not compensated, they and other similarly-situated hourly employees at the Naperville, Illinois facility worked for more than forty hours in a workweek but were not compensated at the increased overtime rate of one-and-a-half times the regular hourly rate as the IMWL requires. (Id. ¶¶ 14-16.) Moreover, to the extent that any uncompensated "Work Time" was straight-time hours, rather than overtime, Plaintiffs also claim that Kraft violated the IWPCA. (Id. ¶ 14.)

Plaintiffs seek to certify two classes, one for each of the counts in the Complaint. For the IMWL claim in Count I, Plaintiffs' propose the following class definition:

All hourly and former hourly employees employed at Kraft Foods Global, Inc.'s Plant located in Naperville, Illinois, who in violation of 820 ILCS 105/1, et seq. were not paid at their full Wages for Hours Worked during the Class Period.

The Class Period is from three years immediately preceding the filing of the complaint to the time of payment of judgment.

Excluded from the class are claims for personal injuries. Also excluded from the class are individuals who opt out of the class.

(R. 46, Mot. for Class Cert. at 1) (emphasis in original). For the IWPCA claim in Count II, Plaintiffs' proposed class definition is the same except for the class period:

All hourly and former hourly employees employed at Kraft Foods Global, Inc.'s Plant located in Naperville, Illinois, who in violation of 820 ILCS 115/1, et seq. were not paid at their full Wages for Hours Worked during the Class Period.

The Class Period is from five years immediately preceding the filing of the complaint to the time of payment of judgment.

Excluded from the class are claims for personal injuries. Also excluded from the class are individuals who opt out of the class. (Id. at 2.) (emphasis in original).

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Court has "broad discretion" to determine whether certifying a class is proper under Rule 23. Keele v. Wexler, 149 F.3d 589, 592 (7th Cir. 1998). In making this analysis, the Court takes the substantive allegations in the Complaint as true and usually does not examine the ultimate merits of the case. Eggleston v. Chicago Journeymen Plumbers' Local Union No. 130, 657 F.2d 890, 895 (7th Cir. 1981). Plaintiffs bear the burden of demonstrating that their case meets all of the requirements of Rule 23. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541, 2551 (2011) ...


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