A federal judge has declined to revoke class certification to a subclass of plaintiffs in an overtime exemption class action against a technology company.
U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton of the District of Connecticut denied defendant Computer Sciences Corp.’s motion.
The subclass of plaintiffs, associate professional and professional system administrators, are part of a larger class action alleging CSC misclassified their exemption status. CSC argued the subclass should be decertified because lead plaintiff Joseph Strauch is an inadequate class representative.
According to Arterton’s opinion, Strauch’s primary duties at CSC consisted of installing and maintaining servers in California. His title eventually changed from senior professional system administrator to professional system administrator.
CSC argued that Strauch is not an adequate class representative for California employees pursuing meal and rest break claims, because he worked from home and doesn’t claim CSC denied him a meal break. Also, the company claimed Strauch was only a professional system administrator for four months and spent most of is career as a senior professional.
“Defendant concedes that Mr. Strauch is a member of the class, does not contest Mr. Strauch’s interest in vigorously pursuing the claims of the class, and does not identify any actual or potential conflicts of interest that may prevent Mr. Strauch from adequately representing the class,” Arterton said. “The only adequacy claim that Defendant raises is Defendant’s argument that Mr. Strauch is inadequate because he will be subject to ‘unique defenses.’”
However, citing the 1990 Second Circuit case of Gary Plastic Packaging v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Arterton noted “it is settled that the mere existence of individualized factual questions with respect to the class representative’s claim will not bar class certification.”
Recalling the court’s certification order, Arterton said Strauch’s job duties “as a Professional SA thus largely fit the job functions inferable from the Professional SA job description.”
“Moreover, there is no merit to Defendant’s argument that the fact that Mr. Strauch came down from a Senior Professional level job title to a Professional level job title, without his duties changing, defeats his adequacy as a class representative,” Arterton said.
Darin Ranahan of Feinberg, Jackson, Worthman & Wasow in Oakland, California, represented Strauch. Alison L. Lynch of Jackson Lewis in Newport Beach, California, represented CSC. Neither responded to requests for comment.