Federal Court in Georgia Conditionally Certifies Class of Home Service Consultants

A federal court in Georgia recently permitted conditional certification of a class of Home Service Consultants in Randle v. AllConnect, Inc. The plaintiffs seeking conditional certification had charged that their employer, AllConnect, had failed to pay overtime compensation for all hours in excess of 40 per week, and that AllConnect failed to pay overtime compensation at the required overtime rate, in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

AllConnect was a company that provided third-party sales support for telephone and cable service providers. The main plaintiff, Ayisha Randle, worked at the Atlanta-based Allconnect call center from March 2012 through November 2013. Randle’s duties as a Home Service Consultant were to receive telephone calls from potential customers, sell them new services, and set up their accounts. Randle received pay on an hourly basis as well as a commission based on her sales. She received supervision from her team lead, Crystal Johnson, who reported to Victor Moore, the Floor Manager.

Randle argues that AllConnect managed to avoid paying Home Service Consultants for all of the hours worked per week by having a policy that required them to work off of the clock to complete their sales calls. Randle’s supervisor would direct to log off of the company’s telephone system (and timekeeping system) at the end of her shift, but still direct calls to her so that she was required to continue working. In a typical week, Randle claims that she worked three to five hours off of the clock. In January 2014, Randle finally filed a claim, seeking to represent current and former Home Service Consultants from AllConnect’s Atlanta-based call center within the last three years who were not paid overtime for their off-the-clock work. She then moved to have AllConnect produce the names and addresses of potential class members. AllConnect motioned that it did not oppose conditional class certification.

The federal court examined the FLSA legal standard for class certification to see whether the current facts met the standard for the two-step process for conditional certification. Step one was the “notice stage,” whether notice should be given to potential class members. The notice stage is a fairly lenient standard by which plaintiffs seeking class certification must demonstrate that there are similarly situated employees who desire to opt in. If that is the case, the court will then conditionally certify the class. The second step is optional, and generally only occurs if the employer moves to decertify the class: after discovery, the court makes a factual determination based on a more extensive record whether the class should remain certified.

Here, the court determined that because six other Home Service Consultants had opted into the case, and several others still wanted to do so, that the “desire to opt in” criteria had been met. Randle then needed to meet the burden of showing that she was similarly situated to the other employees who wanted to opt in. The court found that she did so by demonstrating that the other employees she wished to represent were hourly employees in the same position who were all required by their supervisors to work off of the clock after their shift or during their lunch break. Therefore, the court conditionally certified the class.

Parks, Chesin & Walbert represents plaintiffs in employment matters, including employment discrimination, wage and hour, FMLA, and more. With offices in Atlanta and Nashville, we offer a client-centered philosophy and strive to accomplish our clients’ goals as if they are our own. If you live in Georgia or Tennessee and need an experienced Atlanta employment law attorney, contact us today at 404-873-8048.

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