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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

9th Circuit Holds FLSA Collective Action Rep. May Not Settle Individual Case and Still Appeal Denial of FLSA Conditional Cert.

In Smith v. T-Mobile USA Inc., 570 F.3d 1119 (C.A.9 (Cal.), 2009), two plaintiffs filed suit against T-Mobile, alleging violations of the California Labor Code, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and the Unfair Competition Law, Bus. & Prof. Code 17200 (UCL). The District Court denied their Section 216 motion for conditional certification. No other employees had opted into the suit. The plaintiffs settled their individual claims with T-Mobile, signing a stipulated judgment that purported to reserve the plaintiffs' right to appeal the District Court's denial of conditional certification.

The Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal as moot. It held that a plaintiff in a FLSA collective action may not settle his or her individual claims and still appeal a denial of conditional certification. The Court did not reach the question of whether a plaintiff in a Rule 23 class action may do so.

That will be the next issue when these plaintiffs try to file their Rule 23 motion.

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