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Mujo v. Jani-King International, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 9, 2019

SIMON MUJO, et. al. Plaintiffs,
JANI-KING INTERNATIONAL, INC., et. al., Defendants.



         Simon Mujo and Indrit Muharremi (“Plaintiffs”) allege that Jani-King International, Jani-King, and Jani-King of Hartford (“Defendants” or “Jani-King”) unlawfully classified them as independent contractors under Conn. Gen. Sat § 31-58 et seq. Plaintiffs now move for class certification.

         For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion for class certification. I.FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Mr. Mujo and Mr. Muharremi both performed cleaning services in Connecticut. Second Am. Compl., at ¶ 2-3, ECF No. 41 (“Second Am. Compl.”). Simon Mujo entered into an agreement with Jani-King on July 11, 2007 to perform cleaning services, which required a $15, 000 non-refundable deposit. Id. at ¶ 2, 17, 19. The relationship ended in early 2016. Id. at ¶ 2. Indrit Muharremi is a Connecticut resident who entered into an agreement to perform cleaning services for Jani-King on April 23, 2014, which required a $16, 250 deposit. Id. at ¶ 3, 17-18. He continues to perform those services. Id. at ¶ 3.

         Jani-King provides commercial cleaning services to restaurants, buildings, retailers, hotels, government buildings, health care facilities, stadiums, schools, and universities. Id. at ¶ 15. Jani-King functions by allegedly entering independent contractor agreements to provide cleaning services to Jani-King customers. Id. Defendant, Jani-King, Inc. is a corporation incorporated and headquartered in Texas. Id. at ¶ 5. Jani-King, Inc. owns Jani-King Hartford, Inc., an affiliate operating in Connecticut. Id.

         Mr. Mujo, Mr. Muharremi, and the alleged class all have performed cleaning services for Jani-King. Id. at ¶ 16. Plaintiffs allege that Jani-King requires all members of the putative class to sign similar agreements to perform cleaning services for Jani-King. Id. Under the terms of these agreements, Jani-King allegedly requires Plaintiffs to pay an initial, non-refundable down payment as a condition of Jani-King allowing them to perform cleaning services under Jani-King contracts and with Jani-King customers. Named Plaintiffs and some putative class members submitted their down payment to Jani-King as a lump sum at the time they entered into the contract. Id. A second subset of the putative class members allegedly paid a portion of the down payment at the time they entered into contract with Jani-King and paid or are paying the outstanding balance as monthly deductions drawn from compensation paid to them by Jani-King. Id.

         Plaintiffs also allege that Jani-King controlled the methods and procedures of customer service. Id. at ¶ 20. Jani-King's list of requirements is lengthy, but includes requiring members of the putative class to:

• Complete a training program and pass an exam;
• Follow the Jani-King manual, which lists systems, procedures, policies, methods, and standards;
• Perform cleaning tasks in a specified order;
• Dust horizontal as opposed to vertical surfaces;
• Wipe windows on a schedule;
• Spray disinfectant onto cloth, rather than the surface;
• Use cleaning products meeting Jani-King specifications;
• Use a back-pack vacuum;
• Use dusters and cloth made from certain materials;
• Wear Jani-King uniform and name tag;
• Obtain a personal digital assistant or smart phone capable of sending and receiving emails;
• Limit customer contact and how often putative class members were required to meet with customers to discuss service satisfaction;
• Use the Jani-King memo pad for written communication with customers;
• Submit performance forms and contact sheets to regional office;
• Prohibit any financial interest in a business performing or related to cleaning services in any territory covered by the franchise agreement or where a Jani-King operates;
• Perform services according to a cleaning schedule;
• Submit to Jani-King quality control inspections; and
• Repeat Jani-King training if work is not in compliance with Jani-King standards. Id. at ¶ 20.

Plaintiffs allege that putative class members are entirely dependent upon Jani-King for their work assignments, and do not maintain their own customers. Id. at ¶ 22. Nor do putative class members engage in “an independently established trade, occupation, profession or business of the same nature as that involved in the services they performed.” Id.

         Plaintiffs further allege that Jani-King deducts monthly sums from their wages. Plaintiffs maintain that Jani-King deducts various monthly sums from their wages, such as royalty fees, advertising fees, finder's fees, accounting fees, technology fees, client sales tax, ...

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