An ADEA class was conditionally certified in a suit asserting that a school system declined to rehire older employees for IT positions.
Plaintiff Joseph Andreana has been employed with Defendant Virginia Beach City Public Schools for over 28 years, primarily as a computer resources specialist. In a 2015 reorganization, the School System reduced computer resources positions from 104 to 84 and required all current employees to re-apply. Andreana did so, but wasn’t selected.
In this suit, Andreana asserts that the School Systems violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act by screening out candidates based on age, such that older employees like himself – who met all the required qualifications and had more experience – were systematically rejected in favor of younger, less qualified applicants.
Andreana now seeks conditional class certification on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, specifically: “all persons who worked for [the School System] as Computer Resource Specialists in 2015 and applied for Information Technology Specialists positions in March 2015 but were not selected.”
While the School System raises issues that could be relevant on a motion for decertification or later dispositive motions, resolution of those issues is not essential at this stage of the conditional certification analysis. The court isn’t concerned here with the merits of Andreana’s claims, substantive issues, or even if the members of the collective action are actually similarly situated. The inquiry is limited because the court has minimal information about the contours of the representative class members.
Andreana has sufficiently demonstrated that the potential class members were victims of the School System’s common plan to eliminate computer resource positions. All potential class members were computer resource employees of the School System, their positions were eliminated, they were required to re-apply or retire, and all had to undergo the School System’s screening and evaluation process as a part of the application process that allegedly resulted in various forms of discrimination on the basis of age.
The court is not persuaded that these potential claims would require substantial individualized factual determinations. The purpose of a collective action is to serve judicial interests by facilitating a resolution in a single proceeding of claims rooted in common issues of law and fact. Whether the issues are common to the proposed class turns on whether the issues can be substantially adjudicated without consideration of facts unique or particularized as to each class member, but the situations need not be identical. The inquiry is whether the presence of common issues allows the class-wide claims to be addressed without becoming bogged down by individual differences among class members.
Here, although the collective action may involve some analysis of individual differences based on the nature of the allegations, the Court does not find these differences substantial as to hinder the goals and judicial interests of a collective action. The proposed class will be conditionally certified.
Upon review, the court finds that Andreana’s proposed notice properly instructs potential members on the procedure for joining the lawsuit and the potential implications of doing so. It provides a description of the nature of the action, the parties, and legal claims. It also properly informs potential class members that Andreana’s counsel is retained on a contingency-fee basis. The court also finds that disclosure of telephone numbers along with names and addresses will expedite the notice process. Accordingly, the court will facilitate notice of this collective action as it deems appropriate.
Motion for conditional class certification granted.
Andreana v. Va. Beach City Pub. Schs., Case No. 2:17cv574, May 9, 2018. EDVA at Norfolk (Jackson). VLW No. 018-3-185, 9 pp.