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N.D.Tex.: FLSA Plaintiffs In Second-Filed Case Cannot Be Consolidated Into First-Filed Case, Where They Oppose Such Consolidation

Mumphrey v. CSA-Credit Solutions of America, Inc.

This case presented an interesting issue to the Court:  where 2 similar FLSA claims are filed by similarly situated employees in separate cases, may the Court consolidate the second-filed case into the first-filed case, notwithstanding Plaintiff (and opt-in Plaintiffs’) opposition to same.  The Court answered the question in the negative, and denied Defendant’s Motion to bifurcate the Plaintiff’s claims (separate FLSA unpaid wages claims that were identical to the first-filed case from the retaliation claims brought solely in the second case).

The Court reasoned, “[t]he collective action provision of the FLSA explicitly states that “[n]o employee shall be a party plaintiff to any such action unless he gives his consent in writing to become such a party and such consent is filed in the court in which such action is brought.”  Consolidation of the Mumphrey FLSA claims with the Willins FLSA claims would de facto force Plaintiffs to opt in to a collective action without their consent, in contravention of the FLSA.  The Court therefore finds that the Plaintiffs’ FLSA claims should not be bifurcated from their retaliatory termination claims and consolidated with the Willins case against Plaintiffs’ wishes.

For the reasons stated above, CSA’s Motion to Bifurcate is DENIED. Plaintiffs’ claims will proceed as filed in this case.”