The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert U.S. District Court Judge
This matter comes before the Court on plaintiff Colleen Drew's motion for conditional collective action certification pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) (Doc. 39). Defendant Shoe Show, Inc. has responded to the motion (Doc. 48), and Drew has replied to that response (Doc. 51). The Court also considers Shoe Show Inc.'s motion for oral argument (Doc. 53).
Drew worked as a store manager for a Shoe Dept. retail shoe store in Wood River, Illinois, from 2007 to February 2010. Shoe Dept. is one of the divisions of defendant Shoe Show Inc.; Shoe Show is the other division. As a store manager, Drew was required to work at least forty-eight hours per week, and often worked more than that. Drew alleges that her primary or significant duties were non-managerial and were of the sort typically performed by hourly workers. For example, she alleges she did not have any responsibility for hiring or firing the employees who worked in her store, was not given access to the information and did not have the authority necessary to develop her store, and was monitored, instructed and supervised by a district manager who was the de facto store manager. Nevertheless, Shoe Show Inc. classified Drew as "exempt" under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1).*fn1
Consequently, it did not pay Drew at a rate of one and one-half times her normal pay rate for hours worked over forty hours in one week as ordinarily required by 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1).*fn2
Drew believes her classification as exempt was erroneous, was a willful attempt by Shoe Show Inc. to pay her less that the FLSA required and was part of a nationwide company practice. She believes other Shoe Show Inc. store managers in the Shoe Dept. and Shoe Show divisions share her plight.
Drew filed this lawsuit in August 2010 asserting the following claims: Count I: a claim for failure to pay overtime wages in violation of the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 207(a)(1) and 215(a)(2);
Count II: a state law claim for money had and received; and Count III: a state law claim for unjust enrichment.
In the pending motion, Drew asks for conditional collective action certification of Count I under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) of:
All current and former salaried Store Managers employed by Shoe Show, Inc., at any time from August 25, 2007 through the present, who were classified by Defendant as "exempt" and not paid overtime compensation for work performed in excess of 40 hours per week.
Drew points to her own and Shoe Show Inc.'s corporate representative's deposition as well as Shoe Show Inc.'s documents as evidentiary support for her motion. This evidence shows that Shoe Show Inc. classifies as exempt about half of its 1,110 store managers, all of whom are required to work at least forty-eight hours per week. There is also evidence that all store managers share common job duties and restrictions, receive the same training, are governed by the same or similar manuals and have uniform employment contracts. Drew has also testified that she has spoken with other store managers to confirm they are similarly situated to her.
Shoe Show Inc. argues that conditional certification of a collective action is not warranted for several reasons. (1) Shoe Show Inc. store managers are not subject to a common policy, plan or practice, (2) despite a common job description, variation among putative class members would require an individual assessment of particular job duties to determine liability and damages, (3) Drew is not typical of, and therefore not similarly situated to, other store managers, and (4) that Drew has not presented any affidavits from any other similarly situated store manager. Shoe Show Inc. presents evidence of differences in its Shoe Dept. and Shoe Show divisions, the stores within each division, and the management styles of the various district managers that oversee those stores. It also claims it decides who is exempt or non-exempt on a case-by-case basis depending on the store managers' actual duties and the employee-hours they supervise. Shoe Show Inc. has presented declarations from more than a hundred store managers (potential class members) who state that they perform managerial duties for more than half of their working time; many of them listed the specific managerial tasks they perform. Shoe Show Inc. argues that these store managers are not similarly situated to Drew, who rarely performed managerial duties because she shared them with or delegated them to the key holders (those who held keys to the store but who were subordinate to the store manager) in her store or did not need to because of the nature of her store and its low staff turnover. Shoe Show Inc. also questions Drew's personal knowledge of the management of other Shoe Show Inc. stores, especially those outside her management district or in the Shoe Show division.
Drew contends that the consideration of the merits urged by Shoe Show Inc. is premature. She also asks the Court to disregard the declarations submitted by Shoe Show Inc. because they were not produced in discovery and ...