OPINION AND ORDER DENYING, WITHOUT PREJUDICE, MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION
MARCIA S. KRIEGER, Chief District Judge.
According to the Amended Complaint
In the instant motion
Although initially framed as a typical class certification question under Rule 23, the briefing of this motion indicates that the primary dispute between the parties has less to do with the Rule 23 factors and more to do with a question of law: whether Colorado law allows "companion" employees to perform general household work.
Colorado's overtime requirements are established by the Colorado Division of Labor through a regulatory enactment known as a "Minimum Wage Order." The current version, Minimum Wage Order 30, was promulgated in January 2014. 7 C.C.R. 1103-1. As relevant here, Section 4 of that Order requires that employees receive premium overtime pay, at a time-and-a-half rate, for all hours that the employee works in excess of 40 in one workweek or in excess of 12 in one workday. However, Section 5 of the Order exempts employees performing the job of "companion" from the Order's overtime payment requirements.
Neither the Order nor reported case authority defines the term "companion." The Defendants argue that Colorado's Division of Labor intends to mirror the FLSA's statutory exemption for employees providing "companionship services for individuals who (because of age or infirmity) are unable to care for themselves." 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(15). They have supplied an August 3, 2006 Opinion Letter from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment which states "It is the belief of the Division [of Labor] that the treatment and interpretation of the companions exemption in the Wage Order was intended to the (sic) mirror the companions definition and associated regulations contained in federal law; this position has remained unchanged by the Division since the promulgation of Wage Order 22 in 1998."
29 C.F.R. § 552.6. Thus, the Defendants take the position that Ms. Scott and other caregiver employees are exempt from the overtime requirements of Colorado's Minimum Wage Order so long as they do not spent more than 20% of their total weekly hours performing "general household work."
Ms. Scott argues that the terms of the Colorado Minimum Wage Order are not identical, or even similar, to the federal exemption of companionship employees. Ms. Scott argues that "[u]nder Colorado law . . . an employee may not perform any household work or other non-companionship related duties." In support of this position, Ms. Scott points to a March 31, 2012 document from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment entitled "Advisory Bulletins and Resource Guide." The document provided by Ms. Scott is not complete: she has supplied only the cover page and a single textual page, making it somewhat difficult to ascertain the overall purpose and scope of the document.
Ms. Scott argues that this document demonstrates that Colorado adopts the first portion of the federal definition of "companionship services," as the language is essentially identical to 29 C.F.R. § 552.6, but conspicuously omits the portion of the federal regulation permitting the companion employee to devote up to 20% of his or her weekly hours to "general household work." From this, she concludes that "the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the very agency tasked with promulgating the [Minimum Wage Order], defines the  companion exemption more narrowly than the FLSA's exemption and does not permit companions to perform general household work or other non-companionship related duties."
Thus, the parties' dispute concerns what can be described as a pure question of state law: whether the "companion" exemption in Wage Order 30 corresponds to the federal regulatory exemption, which permits the companion employee to perform some limited general household work, or whether the exemption is lost if the companion employee is assigned to perform any general household work whatsoever.
If the question is resolved in favor of deferring to the federal definition, the inquiry as to whether a caregiver is exempt becomes a heavily fact-intensive one, unsuitable for resolution via a class action. The Defendant indicates that (and Ms. Scott does not appear to dispute) that the question of what services a given caregiver employee performs for a given client are dictated by several factors unique to that arrangement — the client's condition and needs and the particulars of the employee's shift being most prominent. Thus, the question of whether a given employee's general household work exceeded 20% of his or her weekly hours is a highly-individualized inquiry that would operate to defeat class certification under Rule 23.
If, on the other hand, the question is answered as Ms. Scott proposes, it appears that many, if not all, of the Defendant's caregiver employees would not be exempt from Wage Order 30 because most of the Defendant's care giving employees perform some general household work as part of their duties. In such circumstance, it may or may not be appropriate to certify a class of caregiver employees to resolve remaining issues in this litigation.
Simply put, then, the question of whether this action is suitable for class treatment turns on the resolution of the legal question addressed above,
For the foregoing reasons, Ms. Scott's Motion for Class Certification