Court Certifies Class of Rite Aid Store Managers Under Rule 23

A former Rite Aid store manager filed a complaint in the Southern District of New York alleging that Rite Aid failed to pay its store managers overtime in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (the “FLSA”) and the New York Labor Law (the “NYLL).  The plaintiff claimed that store managers had to work overtime to perform non-exempt tasks including duties of cashiers and stock handlers.  The plaintiff moved to certify a class of store managers under Rule 23 and Rite Aid moved to decertify the conditionally certified FLSA class.  U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken granted the motion for class certification of the state law claims, but only as to liability and not for damages.  The court also refused to decertify the FLSA collective action.

The parties disputed whether the members of the class satisfied the commonality and typicality requirements under Rule 23.  The court concluded that “(1) Plaintiff’s portrayal of SM [store managers] as automatons, who perform rote tasks as explicitly directed by RA [Rite Aid] is inaccurate; and (2) despite their obvious discretion, however most SMs perform a similar mix of duties, and at the relevant level of generality, exercise their discretion in similar ways, supporting a commonality finding.”  The court also noted that “the differences among SMs are marginal and expected, rather than hyper-individualized and unpredictable.”  The court, however, refused to certify the class for damages purposes explaining that “there is no showing from Plaintiffs that the relevant records for SMs even exist, let alone a sufficient explanation of an approach for calculating damages.”

Abbey Spanier, LLP, located in New York City, is a well-recognized national class action and complex litigation law firm.