Court Grants Class Certification in Wage Lawsuit Against Charter Communications

On March 27, 2014, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, in the case of Davenport, et al. v. Charter Communications, LLC, issued an Order conditionally certifying the case as a collective action pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. Section 216(b). In the lawsuit, telephone representatives (commonly referred to as "advisors," "representatives," or "agents") represented by Riggan Law Firm, LLC—have sued Charter for not paying them one-and-one half times their regular hourly rate for all hours over 40 in each workweek in violation of the FLSA. The suit also contains class claims for unpaid wages under various state laws. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Charter's telephone representatives were required to perform certain tasks "off-the-clock" and without pay. According to the suit, these tasks included such things as booting up and logging onto computers and loading tools/applications prior to their shift, closing tools/applications at the end of their shift, and logging into and out of Charter's phone system before and after their paid time.

Under the FLSA, an employee may bring a lawsuit on his/her own behalf as well as for those "similarly situated." District courts in the Eighth Circuit (which is the federal circuit that includes Missouri, among other states) conduct a two-step analysis to determine whether employees are similarly situated. The first step is the "notice stage," in which plaintiffs seek early conditional class certification and petition the Court for the right to notify potential class members of the case. The second step is the "merits stage," which takes place after discovery and during which defendants may move to decertify the class. The Court's Order of March 27, 2014 comes during the first stage of the case.

The Court found that the declarations from eleven Charter employees (who worked at three different Charter call centers), stating that Charter's ready to work policy and the performance metrics associated with clocking in and out essentially require Plaintiffs to work off-the-clock, meet the required standard for obtaining conditional certification of the class. The Court noted that at least some support for the declarants' statements is found in the Charter handbook that is distributed to each employee.

The Court held that the appropriate class included not only telephone sales representatives who worked at the same three Charter facilities as the eleven current Plaintiffs, but also those individuals who worked at other Charter call centers. In total, the conditionally certified class includes employees who worked at Charter's call centers located in Town and Country, Missouri; Walker, Michigan; Louisville, Kentucky; Greenville, South Carolina; Vancouver, Washington; Rochester, Minnesota; Fon du Lac, Wisconsin; and Worcester, Massachusetts.

To read a copy of the Court's Order, click here.