Central District of Illinois Rules that Filing Opt-in Consent Forms is not Enough to Establish a Class-action Under FLSA

Across the nation, there are employees who go to work each day and earn overtime wages, but are unaware that they should be getting paid time and a half for the time they work over forty hours each week. Lubin Austermuehle focuses on wage and hour law, and our attorneys frequently meet clients who have years worth of unpaid overtime, and we help them get the wages they are owed. Our Chicago unpaid overtime class action attorneys discovered a case from the federal court for the Central District of Illinois that we wanted to share with our readers due to the unique nature of the issues tackled by the Court in its opinion.

Murray v. Tyson Foods is a case to determine whether Tyson should have paid overtime wages for the time that Plaintiffs spent putting on and taking off protective clothing worn in Tyson’s beef and pork processing plants. The case is one of many similar actions filed in five different states regarding this same issue. Plaintiffs filed a class-action suit alleging that Defendant’s failure to compensate Plaintiffs for that time constituted violations of the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA) and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law (IMWL), and filed individual claims for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA),
After the start of the litigation, Defendant filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the basis that the state law claims were preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act and the parties’ collective bargaining agreement. This motion was was granted, eliminating the class action issues and leaving only the FLSA claim for the six named Plaintiffs. The parties went on to discovery, and three days before the close of discovery, Plaintiffs noticed a 30(b)(6) deposition. Defendant opposed the deposition and filed for a protective order on the grounds that Plaintiffs sought the deposition to gather information on the previously dismissed class action claims. Plaintiffs responded by asserting that the filing of 1,474 opt-in consent forms from other putative class-members had created a collective action under FLSA.

The Court declined to agree with Plaintiffs’ argument because the complaint did not contain a representative FLSA claim and no motion was ever filed to certify a class-action on the claim. Thus, the opt-in consent forms had no legal meaning and did not create a class-action under FLSA. Additionally, the Court found that Plaintiffs’ 30(b)(6) notice was too broad, and granted Defendant’s protective order, but gave Plaintiffs time to issue a more tailored 30(b)(6) notice.

Lubin Austermuehle has a team of wage claim attorneys who focus on nationwide class action lawsuits and who have successfully handled many large disputes. Our Elgin overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying overtime. When workers do not receive the wages they should, a lawsuit may be the only way to recover the wages that are rightfully theirs. Lubin Austermuehle is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Schaumburg wage and hour attorneys by phone at 1 630-333-0333, or through our online form.

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