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Stephanie Hawkins, Darsemia Jackson, and Merija Wallace v. Securitas Security Services Usa

November 16, 2011

STEPHANIE HAWKINS, DARSEMIA JACKSON, AND MERIJA WALLACE, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF THOSE SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SECURITAS SECURITY SERVICES USA, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Feinerman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Stephanie Hawkins, Darsemia Jackson, and Merija Wallace filed this suit against Defendant Securitas Security Services USA, Inc., for whom they worked as hourly, non-exempt uniformed security officers. The complaint alleges that Plaintiffs performed three categories of off-the-clock work for Securitas: (1) mandatory training and orientation; (2) work performed before and after their shifts; and (3) cleaning and maintaining their uniforms. Plaintiffs maintain that Securitas' failure to pay them for this off-the-clock work violated the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law ("IMWL"), 820 ILCS 105/1 et seq.

The court dismissed Wallace as a party plaintiff on judicial estoppel grounds. 2011 WL 2837269 (N.D. Ill. July 18, 2011). The court then denied Defendants' motion to dismiss the IMWL claim as preempted by § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185(a). 2011 WL 5122679 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 28, 2011). Knowledge of the memorandum opinion and order denying dismissal of the IMWL claim is presumed. Now before the court is Plaintiffs' motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 for class certification on the IMWL claim. The motion defines the proposed class as:

All individuals who were employed or are currently employed by Defendant, its subsidiaries or affiliated companies, in the state of Illinois as hourly paid, non-exempt, uniformed security officers or other similarly titled positions at any time during the relevant statute of limitations period.

Doc. 11 at 1.

Class certification is granted in part and denied in part. Certification is inappropriate insofar as the IMWL claim seeks relief for two categories of off-the-clock work: pre- and post-shift work, and uniform cleaning/maintenance. Certification is appropriate insofar as the IMWL claim seeks relief for the third category of off-the-clock work: time spent in mandatory training and orientation. (For ease of reference, the three categories of off-the-clock work will be referred to "claims" in and of themselves.) Although Plaintiffs did not ask that the class be narrowed if their proposal were deemed too broad, the court has the discretion to narrow the class. See In re Motorola Sec. Litig., 644 F.3d 511, 519 (7th Cir. 2011) ("a district court has the authority to modify a class definition at different stages in litigation"); Powers v. Hamilton Cnty. Pub. Defender Comm'n, 501 F.3d 592, 619 (6th Cir. 2007) ("district courts have broad discretion to modify class definitions, so the district court's multiple amendments merely showed that the court took seriously its obligation to make appropriate adjustments to the class definition as the litigation progressed"). For the reasons given below, the court has chosen to exercise that discretion and certify a class for the training/orientation claim only.

Background

This case has been consolidated for discovery purposes with Howard v. Securitas Security Services, USA Inc., No. 08 C 2746. See Howard, Doc. 259 (Oct. 26, 2009) (Gottschall, J.) (finding that both cases "raise analogous legal and factual claims against the same defendant"). Like Plaintiffs here, the Howard plaintiffs allege that Securitas wrongfully failed to pay them for the three categories of off-the-clock work described above; unlike Plaintiffs here, the Howard plaintiffs seek relief only under the FLSA. The court conditionally certified Howard to proceed as a collective action under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). 2009 WL 140126 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 20, 2009) (Gottschall, J.). Over eleven hundred Securitas employees-but not Hawkins and Jackson, the two remaining Plaintiffs here-have opted into the Howard collective action.

After the cases were consolidated, both sides selected two security officers from each of Securitas' thirteen Illinois branches from whom discovery would be taken. The purpose of the discovery was to adduce a record that would enable the court to determine whether to decertify the Howard collective action if and when Securitas files a decertification motion; the discovery is equally useful in assisting the court with Plaintiffs' class certification motion. Both sides have submitted numerous briefs and voluminous exhibits. Rather than summarize the evidence here, the court will refer to specific facts in the course of its analysis.

Discussion

To be certified, a proposed class must satisfy the four requirements of Rule 23(a): "(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims and defenses of the class; and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class." Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a). If Rule 23(a) is satisfied, the proposed class must fall within one of the three categories in Rule 23(b), which the Seventh Circuit has described as: "(1) a mandatory class action (either because of the risk of incompatible standards for the party opposing the class or because of the risk that the class adjudication would, as a practical matter, either dispose of the claims of non-parties or substantially impair their interests), (2) an action seeking final injunctive or declaratory relief, or (3) a case in which the common questions predominate and class treatment is superior." Spano v. Boeing Co., 633 F.3d 574, 583 (7th Cir. 2011).

The named plaintiff bears the burden of showing that each requirement is satisfied. See Retired Chi. Police Ass'n v. City of Chi., 7 F.3d 584, 596 (7th Cir. 1993). "Failure to meet any one of the requirements of Rule 23 precludes certification of a class." Harriston v. Chi. Tribune Co., 992 F.2d 697, 703 (7th Cir. 1993) (internal quotation marks omitted). Although "as a general principle, a court is not allowed to engage in analysis of the merits in order to determine whether a class action may be maintained[,] ... the boundary between a class determination and the merits may not always be easily discernible," and "the class determination generally involves considerations that are enmeshed in the factual and legal issues comprising the plaintiff's cause of action." Retired Chi. Police, 7 F.3d at 598-99 (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541, 2551 (2011) (class certification analysis "[f]requently . will entail some overlap with the merits of the plaintiff's underlying claim"). As the Seventh Circuit has held, "a district court must make whatever factual and legal inquiries are necessary to ensure that requirements for class certification are satisfied before deciding whether a class should be certified, even if those considerations overlap the merits of the case." Am. Honda Motor Co. v. Allen, 600 F.3d 813, 815 (7th Cir. 2010); see also Kartman v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 634 F.3d 883, 889-90 & n.6 (7th Cir. 2011). The Seventh Circuit has directed district courts to exercise "caution" before deciding to certify a class. Thorogood v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 547 F.3d 742, 746 (7th Cir. 2008).

I. Training/Orientation Claim

A. Rule 23(a)(1): Numerosity

Securitas, which had over ten thousand employees in Illinois, does not dispute that the numerosity requirement is satisfied.

B. Rule 23(a)(2): Commonality "Commonality requires the plaintiff to demonstrate that the class members have suffered the same injury" and that "[t]heir claims . depend upon a common contention . of such a nature that it is capable of classwide resolution-which means that determination of its truth or falsity will resolve an issue that is central to the validity of each one of the claims in one stroke." Wal-Mart, 131 S. Ct. at 2551 (internal quotation marks omitted). "[F]or purposes of Rule 23(a)(2) even a single common question will do." Id. at 2556 (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted). "Rule 23(a)(2) does not demand that every member of the class have an identical claim," and some degree of factual variation will not defeat commonality provided that common questions yielding common answers can be identified. Spano, 633 F.3d at 585; see also Rosario v. Livaditis, 963 F.2d 1013, 1017-18 (7th Cir. 1992). Commonality is easily satisfied for the training claim, which presents the common factual question of whether Securitas required its employees to undergo training and orientation and the common legal question of whether the time spent on training and orientation is compensable under the IMWL.

C. Rule 23(a)(3): Typicality

The typicality requirement "directs the district court to focus on whether the named representatives' claims have the same essential characteristics as the claims of the class at large." Retired Chi. Police, 7 F.3d at 596-97. A "plaintiff's claim is typical if it arises from the same event or practice or course of conduct that gives rise to the claims of other class members and his or her claims are based on the same legal theory." De la Fuente v. Stokely-Van Camp, Inc., 713 F.2d 225, 232 (7th Cir. 1983) (internal quotation marks omitted). Hawkins testified that she underwent eight hours of training for which she was not compensated. Doc. 53 at 15. Jackson testified that she underwent sixteen hours of unpaid training and between four and eight hours of orientation for which she was not compensated. Id. at 25-26. The evidence suggests that Securitas employees generally underwent between eight and twenty-four hours of training and orientation. Doc. 24 at 34-35 (citing evidentiary materials); Doc. 60 at 23-26 (same). Both named plaintiffs therefore are typical with respect to the training/orientation claim. See Barragan v. Evanger's Dog & Cat Food Co., 259 F.R.D. 330, 334 (N.D. Ill. 2009) (holding that typicality was satisfied by a common ...


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