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Patricia Wolman, et al v. Catholic Health System of Long Island

December 30, 2010

PATRICIA WOLMAN, ET AL., PLAINTIFF,
v.
CATHOLIC HEALTH SYSTEM OF LONG ISLAND, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joanna Seybert U.S.D.J.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Plaintiffs Patricia Wolman, Kelly Iwasiuk, and Dennis Lundy ("Plaintiffs"), on behalf of others similarly situated, filed this putative class action alleging that Defendants*fn1 failed to pay them for all hours they worked. To that end, Plaintiffs assert statutory claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act ("RICO"), and the New York Labor Law, along with a host of common law claims. Defendants have moved to dismiss. For the following reasons, that motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

The Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") totals 217 paragraphs, and is replete with naughty buzzwords like "fraud" and "racketeering." But, at its core, this case is very simple. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants did not pay them for all the hours they worked. In this regard, Plaintiffs complain about three aspects of Defendants' work and pay policies. First, Plaintiffs contend that Defendants frequently required them to work during their meal and break periods, but did not pay them for this time (hereafter, "Unpaid Break Policy"). (SAC ¶¶ 55-76.) Second, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants "suffered or permitted" them to work "before and/or after their scheduled shifts," without compensating them for this time (hereafter, "Unpaid Time Policy"). (SAC ¶¶ 77-80.) And third, Plaintiffs claim that Defendants did not pay them to attend "compensable training sessions" (hereafter, "Unpaid Training Policy"). (SAC ¶¶ 81-85.)

Nursing Sisters Home Care d/b/a Catholic Home Care, and James Harden (collectively "Defendants").

Defendants have moved to dismiss on a number of grounds.

I. Standard of Review

In deciding motions to dismiss brought under Rule 12(b)6 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court applies a "plausibility standard," which is guided by "[t]wo working principles." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, __ U.S. __, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009); Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009). First, although the Court must accept all of a complaint's allegations as true, this "tenet" is "inapplicable to legal conclusions"; thus, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Harris, 572 F.3d at 72 (quoting Iqbal). Second, only complaints that state a "plausible claim for relief" survive a motion to dismiss. Id. Determining whether a complaint does so is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.

II. FLSA Claims

Plaintiffs' first cause of action asserts violations of the FLSA. This cause of action consists of two paragraphs: (1) a paragraph re-alleging the prior 184 paragraphs "as if fully stated herein"; and (2) a conclusory statement that Defendants "willfully violated their obligations under the FLSA." (SAC ¶¶ 185-86.) So it's a little unclear what kinds of FLSA claims Plaintiffs purport to assert. Construing the SAC in its entirety, the Court presumes that Plaintiffs intended to assert overtime and so-called "gap time"*fn2 FLSA claims, but not minimum wage claims. In this regard, the Court notes that the SAC repeatedly contains statements akin to Defendants not paying Plaintiffs "for all hours worked including those worked both under and in excess of forty in a work week," (SAC ¶¶ 165, 175) but does not even mention the words "minimum wage" anywhere within its 217 paragraphs.

The Court will consider Plaintiffs' overtime and gap time claims. But, before doing so, the Court will first examine what facts Plaintiffs plead to support their allegations regarding the Unpaid Break, Unpaid Time, and Unpaid Training Policies, so it can determine what allegations actually support these claims.

A. Unpaid Break Policy

The SAC alleges that "defendants expect Plaintiffs and Class Members to be available to work throughout their shifts and consistently require their employees to work during their unpaid breaks." (SAC ¶ 62.) To that end, the SAC alleges, among other things, that Plaintiffs: (i) are not asked to leave their work location during breaks (id. ¶ 63); (ii) perform work "in plain sight and at management's request" during unpaid breaks (id. ¶ 68); (iii) have been expressly directed by "Defendants' management" to work during unpaid breaks (id. ¶ 69); and (iv) have been rebuffed by management when they complained about not getting paid for work performed during breaks (id. ¶¶ 70-71).

Defendants contend that the Unpaid Break Policy claims fail to comply with Iqbal's pleading standards because Plaintiffs do not expressly plead "by whom was [work] performed, for how long, and, most importantly, why did the employee not follow the specified procedures to obtain compensation for the 'missed' break?" (Def. Br. at 20.) The Court disagrees. Iqbal does not demand this degree of specificity. Iqbal only requires that Plaintiffs plead only enough facts to render a claim plausible. Here, with respect to the Unpaid Break Policy, Plaintiffs have done so. Among other things, they have alleged that management directed them to work during break times, and that management rejected their efforts to obtain compensation for this work. (SAC ¶¶ 62-71.)

Thus, for purposes of this motion, the Court accepts as true that Plaintiffs frequently performed compensable work during their unpaid breaks, with ...


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