United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
STACY COLLINS, individually and on behalf of other similarly situated individuals, Plaintiffs,
KOHL'S DEPARTMENT STORES, INC., and KOHL'S CORPORATION, Defendants.
RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Collins (“Plaintiff”), individually and on behalf
of other similarly situated individuals, filed a Complaint in
this Court against Kohl's Department Stores, Inc., and
Kohl's Corporation (“Defendants” or
“Kohl's”) on January 11, 2018. Compl., ECF
No. 1. On March 15, 2018, Kohl's moved to transfer this
case to the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Division (“Eastern
District of Wisconsin”), arguing that the Eastern
District of Wisconsin would be the most convenient venue.
Mot. to Transfer, ECF No. 12.
reasons discussed below, the motion to transfer is
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Collins, who lives in Connecticut, allegedly worked for
Kohl's from June 2008 until October 19, 2017, in Enfield,
Connecticut, and Manchester, Connecticut. Compl. ¶¶
is a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business
in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Id. ¶¶
13-14. Kohl's owns and operates approximately 1, 155
retail stores throughout the country. Id.
¶¶ 15, 18.
2008, Kohl's allegedly hired Ms. Collins to work in its
store in Enfield, Connecticut. Compl. ¶ 17. After going
through management training, Ms. Collins allegedly was
assigned to be the Children, Footwear and Home Assistant
Store Manager. Id.
2014, Kohl's allegedly transferred Ms. Collins to its
store in Manchester, Connecticut, where she also worked as
the Children, Footwear and Home Assistant Store Manager until
approximately July 2015. Id.
August 2015, Kohl's allegedly assigned Ms. Collins to be
an Assistant Store Manager of Human Resources and Operations
in its Manchester, Connecticut, store. Id. She
worked in that position until October 19, 2017. Id.
Collins alleges that Kohl's employs four types of
Assistant Store Managers in its stores across the country:
Assistant Store Manager of Human Resources and Operations;
Children, Footwear, and Home Assistant Store Managers;
Apparel and Accessories Assistant Store Managers; and
Overnight Freight and Replenishment Assistant Store Managers.
Id. ¶ 20. Ms. Collins alleges that the
responsibilities for all types of Assistant Store Managers
are essentially the same: to “perform mostly the
non-exempt labor of the stores in which they work, including
unloading trucks, unpacking merchandise, filling on-line
orders, stocking shelves, customer service and operating cash
registers.” Id. ¶ 21.
Collins alleges that Kohl's classifies the Assistant
Store Managers (“ASMs”) as exempt from overtime,
and that it pays them a weekly salary with no overtime
compensation for working more than forty hours in a week.
Id. ¶ 22. The ASMs allegedly each report to a
Store Manager, who is allegedly “the real management
authority of the store, ” and who may schedule the ASM
to work up to forty-five hours per week, but allegedly often
schedule the ASM for fifty or more hours. Id. ¶
23. In particular, Ms. Collins alleges, during the holiday
season in November, December, and the first part of January,
“Defendants schedule ASMs [to work] for six days and 54
hours per week.” Id. ¶ 24. ASMs are also
allegedly scheduled once annually to do inventory, which
requires “approximately 60 hours of work.”
Id. ¶ 25.
Collins alleges that Kohl's classifies all ASMs as exempt
from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards
Act throughout its stores, based on the general job
description of an ASM. Id. ¶ 28. Ms. Collins
alleges, however, that “ASMs do not spend most of their
time on exempt tasks, ” but rather spend most of their
time “performing non-exempt duties, such as unloading
freight, stocking shelves, filling on-line orders, ensuring
that the merchandise was arranged according to company
standards, counting inventory, and organizing the
store.” Id. ¶ 31. Ms. Collins alleges that
Kohl's has “classif[ied] its ASMs as exempt
executives in disregard for the facts and the law, ”
knowing that “the primary duty of the ASMs is not
management and that the law does not permit employers to
classify employees as exempt executives unless their primary
duty is management, ” and knowing that “ASMs work
more than 40 hours per week without overtime pay.”
Id. ¶ 33.
January 11, 2018, Ms. Collins filed this Complaint, “on
behalf of herself and all other ASMs who have worked for
Defendants around the country during the period beginning
three (3) years prior to the filing of this lawsuit until the
date of final judgment in this matter.” Id.
¶ 36. Ms. Collins asserted a violation of the Fair Labor
Standards Act, 21 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. (Count
One), and a violation of the Connecticut Wage Act, Con. Gen.
Stat. § 31-58, et seq. (Count Two).
Id. ¶¶ 45-49. Under Count Two, Ms. Collins
seeks relief under Connecticut law on behalf of
“herself and on behalf of a class consisting of all
ASMs in Connecticut during the period beginning two (2) years
prior to the filing of this lawsuit until the date of final
judgment in this matter.” Id. at ¶¶
March 15, 2018, Kohl's moved to transfer venue to the
Eastern District of Wisconsin. ECF Nos. 12. On April 5, 2018,
Ms. Collins opposed the motion to transfer. ECF No. 29.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
to transfer venue are governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a),
which provides that, “[f]or the convenience of parties
and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court
may transfer any civil action to any other district or
division where it might have been brought or to any district
or division to which all parties have consented.”
See also Semente v. Empire Healthchoice Assurance,
Inc., No. 14-cv-5644 (JMF), 2014 WL 4967193, at *1
(S.D.N.Y. Sept. 29, 2014) (“Even if venue is proper . .
. the Court may still transfer the case to a more appropriate
forum pursuant to Section 1404(a).”). A motion to
transfer venue is “typically considered at an early
stage in a case.” Jones v. Walgreen, Co., 463
F.Supp.2d 267, 271 (D. Conn. 2006) (citing Smith v.
Woosley, 399 F.3d 428, 434 (2d Cir. 2005)).
movant bears the burden of showing that “the balance of
convenience strongly favors the alternate forum . . . [and]
discretionary transfers are not favored.” Xiu Feng
Li v. Hock, 371 Fed. App'x 171, 175 (2d Cir. 2010)
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted); see
also New York Marine and General Ins. Co. v. Lafarge North
Am., Inc., 599 F.3d 102, 113-14 (2d Cir. 2010)
(“Although we have never explicitly approved a district
court's use of the ‘clear and convincing
evidence' standard in ruling on a motion to transfer
venue, the propriety of that standard to transfer-motions is
evident. We have stated that the party requesting transfer
carries the ‘burden of making out a strong case for
transfer.'”) (quoting Filmline (Cross-Country)
Prods., Inc. v. United Artists Corp., 865 F.2d 513, 521
(2d Cir. 1989)). Whether to grant a motion to transfer venue
lies within the broad discretion of the district court and
will be “determined upon notions of convenience and
fairness on a case-by-case basis.” Publicker
Indus., Inc. v. United States (In re Cuyahoga Equip.
Corp.), 980 F.2d 110, 117 (2d Cir. 1992).
that discretion, the Court engages in a two-part inquiry when
considering a motion to transfer venue under Section 1404(a).
the court must determine whether the action sought to be
transferred is one that ‘might have been brought'
in the transferee court.'” In re Collins &
Aikman Corp. Sec. Litig., 438 F.Supp.2d 392, 394
(S.D.N.Y. 2006) (internal citations omitted).
the court must consider whether to use its discretion to
grant the transfer, in the interests of convenience and
justice, by considering: “‘(1) the
plaintiff's choice of forum, (2) the convenience of
witnesses, (3) the location of relevant documents and
relative ease of access to sources of proof, (4) the
convenience of parties, (5) the locus of operative facts, (6)
the availability of process to compel the attendance of
unwilling witnesses, [and] (7) the relative means of the
parties.'” D.H. Blair & Co., Inc. v.
Gottdiener, 462 F.3d 95, 106-07 (2d Cir. 2006) (quoting
Albert Fadem Trust v. Duke Energy Corp., 214
F.Supp.2d 341, 343 (S.D.N.Y. 2002)); see also MAK
Marketing, Inc. v. Kalapos, 620 F.Supp.2d 295, 307 (D.
Conn. 2009) (“In determining whether transfer of venue
is appropriate, district courts must engage in a two-part
inquiry, asking: (1) whether the action ‘might have
been brought' in the proposed transferee forum and, if
so, (2) whether the transfer promotes convenience and
justice.”). “Courts also routinely consider
judicial economy, the interest of justice, and ‘the
comparative familiarity of each district with the governing
law.'” Synca Direct Inc. v. SCIL Animal Care
Co., No. 15-cv-2332 (RJS), 2015 WL 3883281, at *1
(S.D.N.Y. June 22, 2015) (citing CYI, Inc. v. Ja-Ru,
Inc., 913 F.Supp.2d 16, 19 (S.D.N.Y. 2012)).
Court first must consider whether the “action sought to
be transferred is one that ‘might have been
brought' in the transferee court.” In re
Collins & Aikman Corp. Sec. Litig., 438 F.Supp.2d at
394. Kohl's argues that this case could have been brought
in the Eastern District of Wisconsin because its principal
place of business is there. Mot. to Transfer at 5; Reply at
2. Ms. Collins does not dispute that the case could have been
filed there. See Opp. to ...