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Harvey v. Maximus Inc.

United States District Court, D. Idaho

December 15, 2016

REGIS HARVEY, AMANDA COLLINS, ANDREA MCDONALD, Individually and On Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff,
v.
MAXIMUS INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is plaintiffs Regis Harvey's, Amanda Collins's, and Andrea McDonald's (collectively the “Plaintiffs”) Motion to Certify Class. (Dkt. 28).

         Plaintiffs seek to certify a class to challenge MAXIMUS Inc.'s hiring and firing of employees at their call center in Boise, Idaho. MAXIMUS operated call centers in Boise, Idaho and Brownsville, Texas to field calls regarding the Affordable Care Act. (Dkt. 36 at 2). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services contracted with General Dynamics Information Technology (“GDIT”), who in turn contracted with MAXIMUS to operate these call centers. Id. The subcontract became effective on April 15, 2013. Id. Hiring for the call center in Boise began in summer 2013 with additional hiring extending into fall of 2013. Id. at 3.

         MAXIMUS hired three categories of employees to staff its Boise call center. (Dkt 28-1 at 2). Customer Service Representatives (“CSRs”) answered incoming calls. Id. Trainers were responsible for training incoming CSRs and for knowing company materials. Id. First-Level Supervisors were responsible for a team of approximately 14 CSFs and monitored the CSRs' work product and productivity. Id. Most Trainers were hired by mid-June 2013. (Dkt. 36 at 5). Supervisors were hired by late July 2013. Id. Maximus hired about 1, 800 CSRs in waves, with the first wave beginning training in mid-September 2013 and the second wave on October 1, 2013. Id. MAXIMUS continued to hire CSRs throughout the Fall of 2013. Id.

         Harvey was employed by MAXIMUS as a Trainer and was hired in July 2013. Am. Compl. ¶ 13. Harvey had previously been employed by Verizon for six years and left his job there to work at MAXIMUS. Id. Collins was employed by MAXIMUS as a CSR and was hired in July 2013. Id. ¶ 14. She had previously worked at ITT Technical Institute as an Instructor for four years and left that employment for the job at MAXIMUS. Id. McDonald worked for Maximus as a Supervisor and was hired in July 2013. Id. ¶ 15. Prior to working at Maximus, McDonald had a custom clothing and show company. Id.

         When hiring employees, Maximus sent every employee an offer letter, which the Plaintiffs received. (Dkt. 36 at 9). The letters contained language stating that the offer was one of “full-time employment” and that Maximus believed “this is an excellent career opportunity for you and that we can offer you challenges to grow professionally.” Id. The offer letters contained an “Employment At-Will” clause. Id. Offer letters to limited-service employees stated, “We believe this will be an excellent career choice offering an opportunity for professional growth.” Id. Offer letters to Trainers and Supervisors stated, “Your compensation in succeeding years will be considered for adjustment as part of our normal performance review process.” Id. Offer letters to regular-capacity CSRs stated, “Your succeeding compensation reviews and adjustments will be contingent on the federally established annual Wage Determination rate for your position and locality.” Id. Some employees, including Collins, signed an “Employee Acknowledgment Form” which contained language stating that the employee recognizes that employment was at-will and there was “no specific length of employment.” Id. at 9-10.

         In addition to these written statements, Plaintiffs also allege that oral promises were made to them. Am. Compl. ¶ 43. Plaintiffs allege that that MAXIMUS told Plaintiffs that regular capacity employees “would remain employed after the first open enrollment period to service future enrollment periods through the duration of the CCO contract.” Id. Further, MAXIMUS allegedly told Plaintiffs during hiring that “after the CCO contract they would work on other projects for MAXIMUS.” Id. ¶ 44.

         In August 2013, GDIT determined that the projected call volume indicated a “ramp down” beginning in Spring of 2014 for the MAXIMUS Boise call center. Id. at 5. According to MAXIMUS, it became apparent that a significant reduction in employees would be necessary in Boise. Id. However, MAXIMUS hired an addition 600 CSRs after January 1, 2014 in temporary positions for a limited duration because of the impending reduction in force. Id. at 6.

         On April 25, 2015, MAXIMUS terminated 850 employees. Id. MAXIMUS terminated 777 CSRs, 57 Supervisors, and 16 Trainers. Id. Of the 850 employees terminated, 199 of these were limited capacity CSRs. Id. The 651 regular-capacity employees were offered two weeks' severance pay in exchange for a signed Separation Agreement and Release. Id. Out of the employees offered the severance pay, 526 employees signed a Separation Agreement. Id. The Separation Agreement included a clause releasing MAXIMUS of all claims, including those arising from a class action lawsuit. Id.

         Plaintiffs bring claims for fraudulent misrepresentation and promissory estoppel. Am. Compl. 12-15 (Dkt. 3). Plaintiffs allege that MAXIMUS's hiring process promised Plaintiffs and the proposed class members career employment when MAXIMUS had no intention of retaining the new employees for long-term employment. (Dkt. 28-1 at 3-4). Plaintiffs seek to certify a class of all “similarly situated persons hired by Maximus beginning in approximately June 2013 up until January 1, 2014, and were employed at its Boise call center as [CSRs], Trainers, and First-Level Supervisors.” Id. at 4.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, plaintiffs must “affirmatively demonstrate” that class certification is appropriate. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 350 (2011). Under Rule 23(a), the Plaintiffs must show that: (1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.

         These four requirements of 23(a) are designed to “[ensure] that the named plaintiffs are appropriate representatives of the class whose claims they wish to litigate.” Id. at 349. This Court must, following a ‚Äúrigorous ...


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