We just wrote about a recent case in which a court refused to certify a class of Wal-Mart loss prevention employees.  See Bramble v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Case No. 09-04932 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 11, 2011).  In the Bramble case, the court found that the duties of the employees were simply too diverse to justify even conditional certification. 

Only two days later, another court denied certification of an even harder case against rival retailer Target.  In Mullins v. Target Corp.pdf., Case No. 09-7353 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 13, 2011), the plaintiff was an “investigator” for Target, and she claimed that she had been misclassified as exempt under the FLSA.  Her case was somewhat more difficult from the employer’s standpoint because she had no managerial duties and the only potentially applicable exemption was the administrative exemption.  In Bramble, the employer appeared to have the easier executive exemption available.   Like the Wal-Mart plaintiff, the plaintiff in Mullins sought to represent a class of those like her nationwide, and she also moved for conditional certification under section 16(b) of the FLSA.  She fared even worse, however, because the court granted summary judgment against her.

The court analyzed the plaintiff’s duties and found that her investigative activities did satisfy the administrative exemption.  It rejected the plaintiff’s arguments that she did not possess the necessary discretion and decision making authority because she frequently needed to consult with and make recommendations to her superior.  Because it found that the administrative exemption applied, it dismissed her claims and found the motion for conditional certification to be moot.

The Bottom Line:  The Court won’t even reach the issue of conditional certification if it finds the named plaintiff’s claims to be unviable.