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Alex Thomas and Jesus Muniz, Individually, and On Behalf of All Others v. Matrix Corporation Services

August 17, 2012

ALEX THOMAS AND JESUS MUNIZ, INDIVIDUALLY, AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MATRIX CORPORATION SERVICES, INC., ANTHONY HERNANDEZ, COMCAST CORPORATION, AND COMCAST CABLE COMMUNICATIONS MANAGEMENT, LLC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is the Plaintiffs' Motion to Certify the Class. For the reasons stated herein, the Motion is granted, albeit with some adjustments to the class.

I. BACKGROUND

Matrix Communication Services, Inc. ("Matrix") installs and services cable television for Comcast Corp. and Comcast Cable Communications Management, LLC (collectively, "Comcast") on a contractual basis. Defendant Anthony Hernandez ("Hernandez") is President and owner of Matrix. Prior to April 1, 2009 ("Pre-Transition"), Matrix used technicians that it characterized as independent contractors (such as Plaintiff Alex Thomas ("Thomas")) to connect and repair Comcast service for Comcast customers. The technicians were paid on a per-job basis. On and after April 1, 2009, ("Post-Transition") Matrix reclassified those technicians as employees and paid them hourly, with additional compensation possible on a per-job basis, depending on their efficiency. One of those Post-Transition employees was Plaintiff Jesus Muniz ("Muniz"). Thomas' association with Matrix lasted from January 2008 through May 2008 -- entirely before the reclassification. Muniz began working for Matrix in June 2009 -- entirely after the reclassification.

Plaintiffs allege the pre-April 1, 2009 designation of technicians as independent contractors was improper. They argue that hourly wages and overtime, rather than payment-per-job, was required. Even after the conversion, they allege, Matrix failed to pay employees overtime and keep track of the true number of hours worked. They also allege Defendants continued to make deductions from Plaintiffs' paychecks that were inappropriate for employees, such as deductions for equipment rental.

Plaintiffs bring three class-action counts: (1) violation of the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, 820 ILL. COMP. STAT. 115 et seq. (the "IWPCA"); (2) violation of Illinois Minimum Wage Law, 820 ILL. COMP. STAT. 105 et seq. (the "IMWL"); and (3) violation of the Illinois Employee Classification Act, 820 ILL. COMP. STAT. 185/1 et seq. (the "IECA"). Individually, Plaintiffs allege violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (the "FLSA"). Comcast has already settled this lawsuit with Plaintiffs; only Matrix and Hernandez remain as Defendants.

Plaintiffs seek to certify a class defined as follows:

All individuals who are currently employed or were employed by one or more of the Defendants, its subsidiaries or affiliated companies, in the state of Illinois as a technician or other position performing similar responsibilities for the Defendants at any time during the relevant statute of limitations period.

Plaintiffs have identified the following issues of law that they believe are common to the class:

(1) whether Defendants improperly classified Plaintiffs and other technicians as independent contractors under either the IECA or the economic realities test of the IMWL;

(2) whether Defendants failed to maintain true and accurate records of technician time actually worked;

(3) whether Defendants failed to adequately compensate the cable technicians for all work performed, including hours worked over forty per week; and

(4) whether Defendants made improper deductions from technician compensation.

Defendants oppose class certification on the grounds that it is undisputed that Muniz was never regarded as an independent contractor (and thus his overtime question, for example, does not turn on whether he ...


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