PHILADELPHIA – February 11, 2020 – Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney obtained summary judgment in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of client Choice Hotels International, an international hospitality franchisor, in the case of DiFlavis v. Choice Hotels International, Inc. et al.
The case, a FLSA collective action regarding overtime pay, was filed by a housekeeper against Choice Hotels and against one of Choice Hotels’ franchisees, Rama Construction Co., Inc., which owns and operates a Clarion Hotel in Essington, Pa, as she attempted to certify a nationwide class of housekeepers across over 300 hotels.
Buchanan’s attorneys filed a summary judgment motion to dismiss Choice Hotels from the case successfully arguing that under the FLSA, Choice Hotels was not the plaintiff’s joint employer as a matter of law. The Court also denied plaintiff’s conditional certification motion, finding that her unsupported assertions and speculative assumptions were not enough to meet her modest burden to conditionally certify a class under the FLSA.
The Court’s opinion stresses that simply having a franchise agreement in place is not enough for a franchisor to be held as a joint employer and provided a useful analysis of the joint employer factors in the franchise context, which should help other franchisors defeat similar lawsuits.
Labor & Employment section co-chair and shareholder, Joseph J. Centeno and associate Jared L. Pickell represented Choice Hotels.