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Torres v. United Healthcare Services, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

February 1, 2013

Janira TORRES, Victor Feliciano, and Maria S. Fonseca, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED HEALTHCARE SERVICES, INC., Defendant.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Shulman Kessler LLP, Melville, NY, By: Troy L. Kessler, Esq. Marijana F. Matura, Esq., Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP New York, NY, By: Christopher H. Lowe, Esq., Mary Ahrens, Esq., Attorneys for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

HURLEY, Senior District Judge:

Plaintiffs Janira Torres (" Torres" ), Victor Feliciano (" Feliciano" ), and Maria S. Fonseca (" Fonseca" ) commenced this action, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, asserting that defendant United Healthcare Services, Inc. (" defendant" ) deprived its sales representative employees, including plaintiffs, of earned overtime compensation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (" FLSA" ) and the New York Labor Law (" NYLL" ).

Presently before the Court is defendant's motion to dismiss the Complaint and to compel individual arbitration of each plaintiff's claims. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are drawn from the Complaint and the parties' submissions.[1]

Plaintiffs' Employment

Defendant is an insurance company that operates in New York. Defendant " customarily and regularly deploys" its sales representative employees, including plaintiffs, " to one of [its] fixed sites in order to enroll eligible individuals in a Medicaid program."

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(Compl. ¶ 3.) Plaintiffs assert that in those roles they " had little or no discretion in the performance of their duties" and " had no supervisory functions." ( Id. ¶ 44.) Plaintiffs and other sales representatives " work long hours in order to meet aggressive quotas [defendant] imposes on them." ( Id. ¶ 3.) Plaintiffs allege that defendant " had a policy to deprive its sales representatives ... of earned overtime wages by uniformly misclassifying them as exempt from federal and state overtime protections." ( Id. ¶ 2.) Plaintiffs further allege that defendant failed to record all of the time its employees worked or to maintain certain payroll records as required by the FLSA and NYLL. ( Id. ¶ 42.)

Torres worked as a sales representative between August 2009 and October 2011. ( Id. ¶¶ 48, 50.) During that time, she worked more than 55 hours " in most workweeks" but was never paid " overtime pay at the statutory rate of time and one-half her regular rate of pay" after working 40 hours per week. ( Id. ¶¶ 54-56.) Feliciano, who worked as a sales representative between November 2007 and November 2011, also worked more than 55 hours " in most workweeks" while employed by defendant. ( Id. ¶¶ 57, 59, 63.) Defendant also allegedly failed to compensate Feliciano for time worked in excess of 40 hours per week with a time-and-a-half overtime rate. ( Id. ¶ 64.) Fonseca worked more than 50 hours " in most workweeks" during her employment as a sales representative for defendant between November 2010 and July 2011. ( Id. ¶¶ 65, 67, 72.) Fonseca was not compensated at a rate of one and one-half her regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. ( Id. ¶ 73.)

The Arbitration Agreement

At the commencement of their respective employment periods as sales representatives for defendant, Torres, Feliciano, and Fonseca were each provided with electronic copies of the " UnitedHealth Group Employment Arbitration Policy" (the " Arbitration Agreement" ). (Decl. of Deveri Ray, dated June 20, 2012 (" Ray Decl." ) ¶¶ 3-6.) Thereafter, plaintiffs were asked to provide an electronic acknowledgment of receipt by logging on to defendant's PeopleSoft Human Resources Management System and pressing a button that indicated " I have read and agree to the above." ( Id. ) Torres electronically acknowledged receipt of the Arbitration Agreement on August 22, 2009— 19 days after the commencement of her employment. ( Id. ¶ 4 & Ex. A.) Feliciano did the same on November 9, 2007— 4 days after his employment began ( id. ¶ 5 & Ex. B), and Fonseca did the same on December 20, 2010— approximately 21 days after her employment began ( id. ¶ 6 & Ex. C). None of the named plaintiffs dispute that they received copies of the Arbitration Agreement.

The Arbitration Agreement provides that it is " a contract requiring both parties to resolve most employment-related disputes ... that are based on a legal claim through final and binding arbitration." ( Id., Ex. A ¶ B.) A dispute was " based on a legal claim," so as to subject it to arbitration, if it arose " under any federal, state or local statute ... relating to employment discrimination, terms and conditions of employment, or termination of employment including ... the Fair Labor Standards Act." ( Id. ) Plaintiffs do not dispute that their FLSA and NYLL claims are " disputes ... that are based on a legal claim" under this definition.

The Arbitration Agreement also contains a class and collective action waiver, as follows:

Any dispute covered by this Policy will be arbitrated on an individual basis. No dispute between an employee and UnitedHealth Group may be consolidated or

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joined with a dispute between any other employee and UnitedHealth Group, nor may an individual employee seek to bring his/her dispute on behalf of other ...

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