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Jenkins v. White Castle Management Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

February 25, 2015

JIMMY JENKINS and CANDICE ROBERTS, individually and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
WHITE CASTLE MANAGEMENT CO., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOAN B. GOTTSCHALL, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Jimmy Jenkins and Candice Roberts bring this action on behalf of themselves and all similarly situated individuals against White Castle Management Company ("White Castle"), alleging, among other things, that White Castle violated the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, 820 ILCS 115/1 et seq ("IWPCA"). Plaintiffs now move to certify a class action consisting of "[a]ll persons employed at White Castle's Dolton Illinois location from September 2002 to present, who worked and were paid less than the agreed-to wage rate under their IWPCA Agreement by the practice of compelled payments." (Pls.' Mem. at 10, ECF No. 101.) For the reasons set forth herein, Plaintiffs' motion for class certification [98] is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

a. White Castle

White Castle owns and operates "quick-service" restaurants throughout the United States, including a location in Dolton, Illinois (the "Dolton White Castle"). (Darrin Cotton Decl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 109-1.) At any given time, the Dolton White Castle employs approximately forty individuals. (Jimmy Jenkins, 3d Decl. ¶ 59, ECF No. 100-2.) Staff is comprised of a General Manager and several Assistant General Managers, Crew Managers, and Team Members. (Cotton Decl. ¶¶ 4-6, Exs. A1-A3.)

As is the case with most corporate entities, the various positions at the Dolton White Castle come with different duties and responsibilities. Team Members are tasked with guest service, quality control, sanitation, cash handling, and safety. (Def.'s Opp. Br. at 2.) They report to Crew Managers, Assistant General Managers, and the General Manager. Crew Managers, in turn, are responsible for, inter alia, "follow[ing] prescribed procedures in directing... personnel on shift." (Id. ) Crew members also must "[f]ollow established procedures for handling company money." (Id. ) Crew members report to the Assistant General Managers and the General Manager. Assistant General Managers oversee all activities at a White Castle, including "Team Members' cash handling... procedures for compliance to policies." (Id. )

All employees must adhere to the White Castle Team Member Handbook in carrying out their professional duties. (Cotton Decl. ¶8.) "White Castle tries to ensure that all Team Members at the Dolton White Castle receive a copy of the Team Member Handbook at the outset of their employment." (Id. ) The handbook describes Four Quality Standards, one of which is the company's Cash Handling policy. (Id. Ex. A4.) This policy prohibits employees from personally repaying their own drawer shortages or safe shortages.[1] (Jenkins Dep. at 212:7-213:3; Roberts Dep. at 116:18-21; Colbert Decl. Ex. A4.)

b. Plaintiffs' Employment at the Dolton White Castle

Jenkins joined the Dolton White Castle as a Team Member on October 24, 2006. (Cotton Decl. ¶12.) He held this position until January 9, 2008, when he was promoted to Crew Manager. Jenkins was suspended in August 2012, after General Manager Sylvia Anderson suspected him of theft. During a shift Jenkins supervised, a customer tendered a $20 bill for an order costing $1.69 but did not receive any change. (Id. ¶¶ 13-14, Ex. A6.) Jenkins maintains that he did not steal the change but was nonetheless ordered by General Manager Anderson to pay $20 back to the store. ( See Jenkins 3d Decl. ¶¶ 49-50.) Jenkins cites this incident as an example of General Manager Anderson compelling him to make a payment for a drawer shortfall. (Id. ¶ 36.) On September 22, 2012, Jenkins was transferred to another White Castle location. (Cotton Decl. ¶12.)

Roberts began work at the Dolton White Castle on July 5, 2008 as an Assistant General Manager. (Roberts Dep. at 14:11-15:1.) She remained in that position until her termination on December 23, 2013. (Def.'s Opp. Br. at 3.)

Plaintiffs allege that they and other employees made payments to offset drawer and safe shortages. (1st Am. Compl. ¶¶ 2-3, 43, 58-59.) Plaintiffs further allege that White Castle required employees to make these payments as a matter of policy. (Id. ¶¶ 23, 91.)

No records exist of any employee payments for drawer or safe shortages. (Jenkins Dep. at 94:18-22, 347:16-350:13; Cotton Decl. ¶ 11.) White Castle does not make payroll deductions to cover the cost of drawer shortages or safe shortages. (Cotton Decl. ¶11.) Nor do White Castle payroll records reflect any such deductions. (Id. ) All alleged payments to restore drawer or safe shortages were made in cash. (Jenkins Dep. at 85:15-17, 347:19-348:2.)

Plaintiffs acknowledge that official White Castle policy-specifically the Cash Handling Policy-bars employees from paying for drawer and safe shortages. (Jenkins Dep. 215:4-23; Roberts Dep. 264:9-265:0.) Even so, Plaintiffs contend that General Manager Anderson held employees at the Dolton location personally accountable for and required them to cover drawer and safe shortages. (Id. ) Certain White Castle employees-Duan Colbert, Kattie Loveberry, Roger Barnes, Rakitta Boylan, and Donyell Barnes-have submitted affidavits indicating that they reported to General Manager Anderson at some point during their employment, were never asked to pay back a drawer or safe shortage, and "are not aware of anyone at the Dolton White Castle who has paid back a drawer shortage or safe shortage from their own pocket." ( See Duan Colbert ...


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