December 26, 2019 / 1:13 PM / 24 days ago

3rd Circuit decertifies class in American Airlines wage-and-hour case

A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday said a group of at least 200 American Airlines Inc employees at Newark Airport who say they were not paid overtime for off-the-clock work cannot move forward as a class.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it would require individualized inquiries to determine whether each class member was actually working off the clock, reversing a federal judge in New Jersey who certified three subclasses in the case last year.

The panel said U.S. District Judge Jose Linares had not undertaken the “rigorous analysis” required to determine whether class certification was appropriate, and wrongly applied the Fair Labor Standards Act’s test for conditionally certifying a class rather than the higher bar for class certification required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP).

American was backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which said in a February amicus brief that Linares’ reasoning would mean that classes could be certified in virtually any wage-and-hour case, regardless of the individual inquiries required to determine damages.

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