Sheffield v. BB&T et al
ORDER granting 22 Motion to Certify Class. The Notice and Consent to Sue forms agreed to by the parties and filed at [DE 31-1] are APPROVED. Defendants shall provide to plaintiff within fourteen days of the date of entry of this order the name, jo b titles, last known addresses, email addresses if retained, and dates of employment of collective class members in an electronic and importable format. The opt-in period for collective class members is sixty days. Signed by US District Judge Terrence W. Boyle on 5/4/2017. (Stouch, L.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
RUBY SHEFFIELD, individually and on
behalf of all others similarly situated,
BB&T CORPORATION, BRANCH
BANKING AND TRUST COMPANY,
and DOES 1-10,
This cause comes before the Court on plaintiff's motion for conditional class certification
and Court supervised notice under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Defendants have responded, plaintiff has
replied, and the matter is ripe for ruling. For the reasons that follow, plaintiffs motion is
Plaintiff is a former employee of defendant BB&T, which is in part a commercial bank
organized under the laws of North Carolina, who was assigned to work as a special assets
collection representative at BB&T's call center facility located in Lumberton, North Carolina.
Plaintiff alleges that BB&T employed more than 100 collection or customer service
representatives at its Lumberton call center. Plaintiff further alleges thatBB&T required its call
center employees to report to their workstations ten minutes prior to beginning their shifts in
order to start and login to their computers and computer programs and applications, but were not
compensated for this time. Plaintiff alleges that as a result, plaintiff and other call center
employees were scheduled to work more than forty-hours per week and were not paid for
The FLSA expressly allows employees to maintain a collective action for, inter alia,
"unpaid minimum wages, or their unpaid overtime compensation." 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). To bring
a collective action under the FLSA, the putative plaintiffs must satisfy two requirements: (1) they
must establish they are "similarly situated," and (2), they must affirmati'_'ely consent to the
named plaintiffs class representation. Id. As to the question of whether the putative plaintiffs
are "similarly situated," the Court applies a two-step approach. See Cameron-Grant v. Maxim
Health Care Servs., Inc., 347 F.3d 1240, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003). 1
At the first, "notice" stage of the process, the Court determines whether the plaintiff and
potential opt-in plaintiffs are sufficiently "similarly situated" to warrant notice being given to
allow potential plaintiffs to opt-in and to proceed as a collective action through discovery; at this
initial stage, a lenient standard applies. Mclaurin v. Prestage Foods, Inc., 271 F.R.D. 465, 469
(E.D.N.C. 2010). A plaintiff must establish "a modest factual showing sufficient to demonstrate
that they and potential plaintiffs together were victims of a common policy or plan that violated
the law." Patton v. Thomson Corp., 364 F. Supp. 2d 263, 267 (E.D.N.Y Apr. 5, 2005)) (citations
omitted). If the Court finds plaintiff and potential opt-in plaintiffs sufficiently similarly situated
to warrant issuing notice of the collective action, the Court will conditionally certify the
Court has previously found the two-step approach to determining whether putative
plaintiffs are "similarly situated" to be "rational, fair, and supported by sufficient persuasive case
law" and therefore applies it here. See Ceras-Campo v. WF P'ship, No. 5:10-CV-215-BO, 2011
WL 588417, at *2 (E.D.N.C. Feb. 9, 2011).
The second stage of collective action certification is triggered later. The Eleventh Circuit
Court of Appeals described the second stage of the two-stage approach as follows:
The second determination is typically precipitated by a motion for "decertification" by the
defendant usually filed after discovery is largely complete and the matter is ready for trial.
At this stage, the court has much more information on which to base its decision, and makes
a factual determination on the similarly situated question. If the claimants are similarly
situated, the district court allows the representative action to proceed to trial. If the
claimants are not similarly situated, the district court decertifies the class, and the opt-in
plaintiffs are dismissed without prejudice. The class representatives-i. e. the original
plaintiffs-proceed to trial on their individual claims.
Hipp v. Liberty Nat'l Life Ins. Co., 252 F.3d 1208, 1218 (11th Cir. 2001) (quoting Mooney v.
Aramco Servs. Co., 54 F.3d 1207, 1213-14 (5th Cir. 1995) (internal footnote omitted)).
Defendants do not challenge plaintiffs assertion that she and the other call center
employees at the Lumberton facility are similarly situated for purposes of conditional
certification. Further, plaintiff and defendants have conferrE'.d and stipulated to the form of the
Notice and Consent to Sue forms, and have
agreed that the statute oflimitations on the
notice should reference three years prior to the date the court-ordered notice is sent. The Court,
having conducted its own review, agrees that plaintiff and the putative class members are
similarly situated for purposes of conditional certification. Accordingly, plaintiffs motion to
conditionally certify class is GRANTED and the class is hereby defined as:
All Collections Representatives I and II employed by Branch Banking and Trust
Company, its subsidiaries, or other related entities at its Lumberton, North
Carolina call center, who were riot paid for the overtime hours they worked offthe-clock prior to the start of their shifts from [three years prior to the date courtordered notice is sent] through completion of this litigation.
The Court further agrees that the notice and forms submitted by the parties are appropriate. The
sole remaining question for the Court is whether to permit the potential opt-in class members to
be contacted at their personal email address, if defendants have retained such information. The
Court finds any burden on defendants to produce such information to be minimal and that
inclusion of email correspondence to potential opt-in class members will assist in furthering the
purposes of the FLSA. Accordingly, plaintiff's request to serve notice of this lawsuit on putative
class members by personal email is allowed. Defendants are DIRECTED to provide to plaintiff,
along with any physical address information, any personal email addresses of putative class
members that defendants have retained.
For the foregoing reasons, plaintiff's motion for conditional class certification and court
supervised notice under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) is GRANTED. The Notice and Consent to Sue
forms agreed to by the parties and filed at [DE 31-1] are APPROVED. Defendants shall provide
to plaintiff within fourteen days of the date of entry of this order the name, job titles, last known
addresses, email addresses if retained, and dates of employment of collective class members in
an electronic and importable format. The opt-in period for collective class members is sixty
SO ORDERED, this
_!f_ day of May, 2017.
TERRENCE W. BOYLE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?