Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), individuals may bring suit “on behalf of himself or themselves and other employees similarly situated.” 29 U.S.C. §216(b). Neither the statute itself nor the Ninth Circuit have defined the term “similarly situated,” Luque v. AT&T Corp., 2010 WL 4807088 (N.D.Cal. Nov. 19, 2010) at *3, citing Lewis v. Wells Fargo & Co., 669 F.Supp.2d 1124, 1127 (N.D.Cal. 2009). Courts in the Ninth Circuit take a two-step approach to determine whether plaintiffs are “similarly situated.” Id.
The Court’s first step is to make an initial, conditional determination of whether the plaintiffs are similarly situated, “deciding whether a collective action should be certified for the purpose of sending notice to potential class members.” Luque, supra, at *3, quoting Lewis, supra, at 1127. The initial notice stage determination utilizes a lenient standard that typically results in certification. Wynn v. National Broad Co., Inc., 234 F.Supp.2d 1067, 1082 (C.D.Cal. 2002). While the initial inquiry is not a mere formality, plaintiffs seeking conditional certification need only provide “substantial allegations, supported by declarations or discovery.” Luque, supra, at *3, citing Kress v. PriceWaterhouseCoopers, LLP, 263 F.R.D. 623, 627 (E.D.Cal. 2009). Indeed, “Courts need not even consider evidence provided by defendants at this stage.” Luque, supra, at *3 (emphasis in original), quoting Kress, supra, at 628.READ MORE