Class Certification Granted in Maryland Wage-and Hour/FLSA Collective Action
On December 21st, Maryland U.S. District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte granted class certification in a hybrid state wage-and-hour case/FLSA collective action. The class consists of 152 Pinkerton's security guards at Andrews Air Force Base who were denied 45 minutes of pay per day for on-duty meal breaks. Pinkerton had a policy that the 45 minutes automatically be deducted from pay even though during their meal break the guards were confined to post, a guard shack, and required to be armed, listening to their radio and available to respond to emergencies.
Defendant strenuously argued that Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. required the judge to deny class certification. Judge Messitte found unpersuasive Defendant's argument that because individual employees had different experiences in how often their meal periods were interrupted to perform duty, there was no commonality for a class. Judge Messitte noted that under both relevant tests used by Fourth Circuit courts, the facts, especially the fact that the guards were confined to post during the meal periods, indicated that the entire meal period was compensable, making the common policy to deduct 45 minute for the meal period appropriate for class certification.
Art Rogers of the DC EJC is co-counsel in the case. His advice has been instrumental in developing and prosecuting the case.