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Michael v. Bloomberg L.P.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

February 11, 2015

ERIC MICHAEL, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
BLOOMBERG L.P., Defendant.

OPINION

THOMAS P. GRIESA, District Judge.

Plaintiff, a former employee in the Analytics Department at Bloomberg L.P. ("Bloomberg"), brings this civil action under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and New York Labor Law ("NYLL"). Proceeding under a pseudonym, plaintiff alleges that Bloomberg failed to pay proper overtime premiums to workers in its Analytics Department, and seeks unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages, costs and attorneys' fees, as well as declaratory relief under the FLSA and NYLL. Plaintiff has filed suit on behalf of himself and others similarly situated.

Plaintiff has two motions pending before the court. First, plaintiff moves for a protective order and leave from the court to proceed under the pseudonym "Eric Michael." (Dkt. No. 11.) While plaintiff is willing to provide his real name to Bloomberg, he refuses to do so absent an agreement from Bloomberg to keep his name confidential. Should the court grant plaintiff's request to proceed pseudonymously, plaintiff additionally asks that: (1) plaintiffs identity be filed under seal with the court; (2) plaintiffs name, address, and other identifying information be supplied to Bloomberg; and (3) Bloomberg be directed not to disclose plaintiffs identity or make negative public remarks concerning plaintiff.

Second, plaintiff moves the court to approve its proposed collective action notice, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) of the FLSA. (Dkt. No. 8.) In his motion to approve the collective action notice, plaintiff seeks the court's authorization (1) to issue plaintiff's proposed notice to all potential class members, (Dkt. No. 10-1), (2) to issue plaintiffs proposed reminder mailing to all potential class members, (Dkt. No. 10-2), and (3) to issue plaintiffs proposed Consent to Sue form. (Dkt. No. 10-3.) Plaintiff also seeks a court order requiring Bloomberg to post the collective action notice in the workplace of potential class members, and to provide contact information, including social security numbers, for all persons employed by defendants in the Analytics Department since September 21, 2009.

For the reasons discussed below, plaintiffs motion for a protective order and leave from the court to proceed under a pseudonym is denied. Plaintiffs motion to approve the collective action notice is stayed until plaintiff files a second amended complaint identifying the plaintiff by name.

Background

The following facts are drawn from the First Amended Complaint (Dkt. No. 6) {the "FAC") and plaintiffs submissions made in connection with the pending motions. The facts alleged are assumed to be true for purposes of the pending motions.

From August 2012 through January 2014, plaintiff worked in the Analytics Department at Bloomberg. Plaintiff represents a putative class of "all representatives in the Analytics Department who were not paid time and one half for hours over 40 worked in one or more weeks." FAC ¶ 9. The class includes three different job titles, which reflect varying levels of training and experience: Analytics Representatives, Analytics Specialists, and Advanced Analytics Specialists (collectively, "ADSK Reps").

The primary duty of ASDK Reps is to answer questions from Bloomberg customers regarding the operation of software running on Bloomberg terminals. These questions primarily came through electronic "Bloomberg Chat" requests initiated by Bloomberg customers through their Bloomberg terminals.

The FAC alleges that ADSK Reps are paid by salary and assigned an eight-hour shift, five days a week. According to the FAC, ADSK Reps regularly worked more than 40 hours per week, including time spent working before and after shifts and during lunch hours. The FAC further alleges that ADSK Reps were required to work from home, as well as on weekends and holidays. The FAC alleges that Bloomberg failed to pay overtime at the rate of time and a half for hours worked above 40 hours in a single workweek.

Discussion

I. Motion For Protective Order

Plaintiff moves for a protective order and leave to proceed under a pseudonym. Plaintiff claims that Bloomberg has publicly disparaged plaintiffs in other FLSA suits against Bloomberg, which could negatively impact plaintiffs future employment prospects. In a pseudonymous affidavit, plaintiff claims that he fears "publicity associated with the complaint will harm [his] future job prospects with other future employers." (Dkt. No. 14 at ¶ 3.) Plaintiff further claims that his "need for anonymity in the public filing to prevent a lifetime of harm outweighs any harm to the public or Bloomberg." (Dkt. No. 13 at 5.) Because plaintiff has offered to disclose his real identity to Bloomberg - subject to the issuance of a protective order prohibiting Bloomberg from disseminating plaintiffs identity to the public-plaintiff argues that Bloomberg will not be prejudiced in its ability to conduct an internal investigation of plaintiffs claims. At most, according to plaintiff, Bloomberg's prejudice will be limited to the costs involved in redacting public filings and filing documents under seal.

In opposition, Bloomberg argues that plaintiff's purported privacy concerns are vague and shared by nearly every plaintiff suing his or her employer, and that plaintiffs argument "would render every FLSA case an exceptional case justifying such secrecy in their proceedings." (Dkt. No. 22 at 8 (internal quotation marks omitted).) Bloomberg argues that, "as in any FLSA lawsuit, Bloomberg has a right to know the identity of its adversary, the putative class and opt-in members have a right to know whether [plaintiff] will be an adequate representative for them, and the public has a ...


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