No ruling has issued yet on TQL’s motion to decertify the Ohio class action, which presents overtime claims under Ohio law. The motion has been pending before Judge Michael Barrett since late 2016. TQL previously filed a similar motion to decertify the Federal collective action, presenting claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Although the legal standards are slightly different between proceeding under State and Federal law, the theory of recovery remains the same, namely that TQL failed to pay overtime to the class members by misclassifying them as exempt. TQL's second motion to decertify essentially restates its earlier arguments made in the Federal part of the case, which were rejected by the Court in early 2016. We are confident that a decision will be rendered shortly and the case can move forward.
Hendricks v. Total Quality Logistics
Hendricks, et al. vs. Total Quality Logistics, LLC. This is an overtime pay case brought on behalf of current and former freight brokers (Logistics Account Executive Trainees and Logistics Account Executives) who were paid a salary or a draw against commissions. These employees worked very long hours but did not receive any overtime pay and are not exempt from overtime under the law. We seek to recover overtime pay for these employees.
The briefing on TQL’s motion to decertify the Ohio LAET and Junior LAE classes was concluded a little more than a year ago and the case submitted for decision. The Court, however, has not yet ruled on the motion. Class certification and decertification issues are legally and factually complex and it is not unusual for such motions to remain pending for this length of time. We expect a decision to issue soon and remain confident about the merits of the overtime claims in this lawsuit.
As is typical in class action litigation, TQL has challenged the class certifications of LAETS and Junior LAEs in this case. TQL’s motion to "decertify" was filed on July 1.We filed our opposition on September 1. Our brief presents lengthy factual and legal arguments supporting why a class action is the best way to litigate the Ohio overtime claims. TQL previously attempted, unsuccessfully, to decertify the "Federal" potion of this case. Its new motion repeats many of the same arguments in attempting to decertify the "State" portion. TQL has the opportunity to file a reply brief by October 1 and then the matter will go to Judge Barrett for decision.
Judge Barrett has issued a favorable decision on TQL’s motion to decertify the Federal overtime class. The decision permits the Federal case to go forward, but in two narrower classes, one consisting of LAETs employed after February 14, 2008, and a second of Junior LAEs employed after that date. Commission eligible LAEs are excluded from both classes. The ruling adversely affects individuals who opted in to the Federal case but were employed only as commission eligible LAEs after February 14, 2008.
We vigorously argued to maintain all of the original class members in the case. We are bound, however, by the Judge's decision. As a result, approximately 17 members of the class are no longer included in the case as they did not work as LAETs or Junior LAEs after February 14, 2008. We have notified those affected by the ruling.
While we are very gratified that Judge Barrett maintained the Federal class for the LAETs and Junior LAEs, we are disappointed that those employed only as LAEs during the class period will not be able to continue in the case. We want thank each and every one of the individuals dismissed by the decision for their important contributions to the litigation. We value each and every member of our class.
The Judge's decision is a very important one in this litigation as it establishes that the federal case may proceed as a "collective action."
Judge Michael Barrett has set several dates to move this case forward. All discovery on Ohio and federal overtime claims and TQL’s defenses must be completed by April 15. TQL was given a deadline of July 1 to file any challenge to class certifications for Ohio overtime claims.
We are still very interested in hearing from Ohio LAETs and Junior LAEs who are members of the two certified overtime classes. The classes include those who held one or both of these jobs after September 21, 2008. If you have not done so already, please complete a short survey about your employment. This will assist us in analyzing your overtime claims and other case issues.
During a Status Conference held on December 29, 2015, Judge Barrett set several dates to move this case forward. Discovery about our claims and TQL’s defenses must be completed by April 15. This includes depositions, and requests for admissions and documents. TQL advised the Judge that it intended to file a motion seeking to "decertify" the class action, which was expected. The Judge set a deadline of July 1 for filing this motion. All briefing will be completed by October 1.The decisions granting class certification for LAETs and Junior LAEs were well-reasoned and we believe they will survive this challenge. Although this may seem like a lengthy process, we are pleased to have some important deadlines set.
On July 17, 2015 Notice of this lawsuit was mailed to LAETs and Junior LAEs employed by TQL in Ohio since September 21, 2008. The Notice explained the overtime claims we are making under Ohio law and gave individuals in the class the right to exclude themselves by the end of the Notice Period, September 15, 2015 The class list contained the names of 4,554 current and former TQL employees. Of this number, 89 chose to exclude themselves or opt-out. The Ohio overtime claims will be determined on a class basis by Judge Michael R. Barrett.
The case now proceeds to a discovery phase which gives each side the opportunity to obtain information from the other side about the claims and defenses in the case. Discovery is scheduled to conclude at the end of February 2016. No trial date has yet been set.
On July 17, 2015, a "Notice" concerning this lawsuit was mailed to all Ohio class members. This Notice answers most of the common questions about the case, your rights and what will be happening in the near future. For more information, visit ohiofreightbrokerotlawsuit.com.
If you received a Notice, please complete a short survey about your employment. This will assist us in analyzing your overtime hours and other case issues.
|TQL Class Survey|
Hendricks v. Total Quality Logistics: On Monday March 30, Judge Michael Barrett issued an Order redefining who can participate in the Ohio overtime case. The Judge ruled that all LAETs and Junior LAEs employed by TQL in Ohio from September 21, 2008 until the end of fact discovery (a date yet to be determined) can be part of a class asserting overtime claims under Ohio law.
We anticipate that notice will issue to Ohio class members within the next 1-2 months notifying them of the lawsuit. This ruling gives a green light to proceed in the prosecution of the Ohio claims.
On July 17, Chief Judge Dlott granted our motion to certify a class of all Junior ( non-commissioned ) LAEs working in Ohio.
This is an important step forward. The Judge previously had certified a class of Ohio LAETs. Based on some differences in the two positions, Junior LAEs will have a separate class, but they will be making the same claim; that they were misclassified as exempt employees. Going forward, all Ohio LAETs and Junior LAEs employed since September 21, 2008 can make their overtime claims as a class. Many individuals will have claims as both LAETs and Junior LAEs.
We will be meeting with Judge Dlott and the lawyers for TQL on July 29 to discuss scheduling and the next steps. An update will be provided after this meeting.