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Meals v. Keane Frac GP LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

June 6, 2017

CHRISTOPHER MEALS, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
KEANE FRAC GP LLC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Nora Barry Fischer, U.S. District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This is a proposed class and collective action brought by Plaintiff Christopher Meals (“Meals”) against Defendants Keane Frac GP LLC, Keane Frac LP, and Keane Group Holdings, LLC, alleging that Defendants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (“PMWA”). Presently before the Court is a contested motion filed by Meals seeking conditional certification of a proposed collective action to include “all current and former Frac Supervisor Is and other like employees who work(ed) for Defendants in the last three (3) years to the present.” (Docket No. 28 at 2). As the Motion has been fully briefed, it is now ripe for disposition. (Docket Nos. 28, 29, 34, 40). After careful consideration of the parties' arguments, and for the following reasons, Plaintiffs' Motion, (Docket No. [28]), is granted.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. The Parties

         Defendants constitute an oilfield services company that operates throughout the United States, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Texas, and North Dakota. (Docket No. 1 at ¶ 18). Defendant Keane Frac GP LLC is a Delaware limited liability company; Defendant Kean Frac, LP is a Pennsylvania limited partnership; and Defendant Keane Group Holdings, LLC is a Delaware limited liability company. (Id. at ¶¶ 8-10).

         Meals alleges that Defendants owe him and its other hourly, bonused employees back pay at the rate of time and one-half for all hours worked over forty in a work week, liquidated damages, attorneys' fees, and court costs. (Id. at ¶ 1). He seeks to represent the following:

• All current and former employees of Defendants who were paid on an hourly basis with bonuses (the “FLSA Bonus Class”) within the last three years. (Id. at ¶ 3).
• All hourly paid employees who received bonuses and worked in Pennsylvania (the “Pennsylvania Bonus Class”) within the last three years. (Id. at ¶ 4).
• All current and former Supervisor I employees who Defendants classified as exempt (the “FLSA Supervisor I Class”) within the last three years. (Id. at ¶ 5).
• All Supervisor I employees Defendants employed in Pennsylvania (the “Pennsylvania Supervisor I Class”) within the last three years. (Id. at ¶ 6).

         B. Factual Background

         Meals worked for Defendants as an SEO II in oilfields located in Pennsylvania from March 2013 until April 2014. (Id. at ¶ 19). From April 2014 until November 2015, Meals worked for Defendants as a Treater in Training. (Id. at ¶ 20). While working as an SEO II and a Treater in Training, Meals earned an hourly rate and routinely worked more than forty hours per week. (Id. at ¶ 21). In addition to an hourly rate, Defendants paid Meals, FLSA Bonus Class Members, and Pennsylvania Bonus Class Members a job bonus. (Id. at ¶ 22). The job bonus, which Defendants typically disbursed once per month, was a non-discretionary payment because Defendants based the bonus amount on the number of completions an operator performed in the field and the revenue Defendants earned from a job at an oil well. (Id. at ¶¶ 22-23). Because the bonus payments often were equal to or exceeded the amount that Defendants paid monthly for hourly earnings, they represented a significant portion of the earnings made by Meals, FLSA Bonus Class Members, and Pennsylvania Bonus Class Members. (Id. at ¶ 24). Meals alleges that Defendants violated the FLSA and Pennsylvania law because they did not include the bonus payments in the regular rate of pay for purposes of determining overtime compensation. (Id. at ¶¶ 25-26). Meals further avers that he, FLSA Bonus Class Members, and Pennsylvania Bonus Class Members were required to work well in excess of forty hours per week and often worked more than eighty hours per week. (Id. at ¶ 27). Meals alleges that he, FLSA Bonus Class Members, and Pennsylvania Bonus Class Members are not exempt employees under the FLSA or the PMWA and that Defendants classified them as non-exempt employees. (Id. at ¶¶ 28-29).

         From November 2015 until March 2016, Meals worked for Defendants as a Supervisor I. (Id. at ¶ 30). Defendants paid Meals a salary, no matter how many hours he worked each week, and a bonus. (Id. at ¶ 31). Defendants did not pay overtime compensation to Meals or to its other Supervisor I employees. (Id. at ¶¶ 32-33). Meals, FLSA Supervisor I Class members, and Pennsylvania Supervisor I Class Members regularly worked six to seven days per week without overtime compensation. (Id. at ¶ 34). Defendants' managers observed the employees working early in the mornings until late in the evenings and on weekends. (Id. at ¶¶ 34-35). Meals contends that because Defendants classified its Supervisor I employees as exempt, he, FLSA Supervisor I Class members, and Pennsylvania Supervisor I Class Members were denied overtime compensation to which they were entitled as non-exempt employees. (Id. at ¶¶ 36-38). In support, Meals avers that he, FLSA Supervisor I Class members, and Pennsylvania Supervisor I Class Members performed oil field manual production work, which is the same work performed by non-exempt, hourly employees. (Id. at ¶ 39). He maintains that they did not perform duties that qualify for any “white collar” or other exemption because they: (1) did not regularly supervise the work of two or more employees; (2) did not exercise discretion and independent judgment as to matters of significance; (3) did not perform office work related to Defendants' general business operations or its customers; (4) had no advance knowledge in a field of science or learning which required specialized instruction that was required to perform the job; and (5) were not required to have a college degree. (Id. at ΒΆΒΆ 40-45). Meals maintains that all Supervisor I employees are similarly situated because they share common job duties and descriptions, Defendants treated them as exempt employees, and they all ...


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