In granting a recent motion to strike class allegations, the Northern District of Illinois made two notable observations about such motions: first, they are not disfavored, but rather an appropriate device for determining whether a class action can proceed; and second, that in analyzing the putative class for conflicts, the court is not limited to the face of the complaint.

In the case, plaintiff brought a putative class action alleging her employer withheld actual and overtime pay by requiring employees to perform work off-the-clock.  She sought to certify a class for violations of the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (“IWPCA”) and brought a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

The court found that the IWPCA class failed the adequacy requirement due to two class conflicts: first, between managers and the associates who reported to them; and second, between current managers and former employees. The class failed the typicality requirement because defendant had a unique defense against the managers in the class: that if they had required other class members to work off-the-clock, they violated defendant’s policies. The court also dismissed the FLSA collective action because plaintiff failed to make a factual showing, by affidavit or declaration, that potential class members were similarly situated.

Lee v. The Children’s Place Retail Stores, Inc., No. 14 C 3258 (N.D. Ill. Oct 8, 2014)