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Cromwell v. New York City Health & Hosps. Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

October 16, 2013

JEROME CROMWELL on behalf of himself and all other employees similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW YORK CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITALS CORP. et al., Defendants

For Trustees of the Metal Polishers Local 8A-28A Funds, Plaintiff: Dana Lynne Henke, LEAD ATTORNEY, Barnes, Iaccarino & Shepherd LLP, Elmsford, NY.

OPINION

Page 270

OPINION & ORDER

PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, United States District Judge.

On June 10, 2013, plaintiff Jerome Cromwell (" Cromwell" ) filed a Second Amended Complaint against the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (" HHC" ) and Alan D. Aviles, HHC's chief executive officer (collectively, " defendants" ). Dkt. 38. Cromwell seeks to recover, on his own behalf and that of a putative class of employees, unpaid wages allegedly owed to hourly employees for work performed before and after scheduled shifts, and during meal periods and breaks. Cromwell asserts that defendants deprived him and similarly situated HHC employees of overtime and gap-time pay, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (" FLSA" ), 29 U.S.C. § § 201 et seq., and/or New York Labor Law (" NYLL" ) § § 191 et seq .[1]

On July 8, 2013, defendants moved to dismiss Cromwell's NYLL claims against HHC in their entirety, on the ground that HHC is a political subdivision of New York State and therefore exempt from the NYLL's wage provisions. Dkt. 42 (" Def. Br." ). On July 22, 2013, Cromwell submitted his opposition. Dkt. 43 (" Pl. Br." ). On July 29, 2013, defendants replied. Dkt. 44 (" Def. Rep. Br." ).

For the reasons that follow, the Court grants defendants' partial motion to dismiss.

I. Factual Allegations[2]

Between October 10, 1989, and February 1, 2010, Jerome Cromwell worked as a hospital police officer at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center, a medical facility of the HHC.[3] SAC ¶ 68. As a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 237, Cromwell was subject to the union's collective bargaining agreement. Id. ¶ 69. Cromwell's official duties included patrolling and protecting the Woodhull facility and monitoring patient and visitor activities. Id. ¶ 70. Cromwell was required to carry a pager and immediately to respond to emergency calls received during his scheduled shifts. Id.

Between May 2006 and February 2010 (the " Relevant Time Period" ), Cromwell typically worked five days per week between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., totaling 37.5 hours of scheduled work. Id. ¶ 71. Cromwell alleges that, during 35% of his workweeks, he worked an additional 7.5-hour shift, resulting in a total of 45 hours worked during those weeks. Id.

Page 271

Cromwell alleges that he worked additional time, for which he was not compensated, before and after his scheduled shifts, as well as during his meal periods and breaks. Id. ¶ 73. Cromwell estimates that the uncompensated work before his scheduled shifts amounted to an additional one hour of work each shift, and that the uncompensated work after his shifts amounted to an additional 20 minutes of work twice per week. Id. ¶ 74. Finally, Cromwell alleges that he was required to work through his entire 30-minute meal break once a week and that, once a week, his meal breaks were disrupted by work-related interruptions lasting at least 15 minutes. Id. ¶ ¶ 76-77. Cromwell asserts that missed meal breaks totaled an additional one hour per week of uncompensated time. Id. ¶ 78.

Cromwell alleges that he worked these uncompensated hours as a result of HHC policy. For instance, Cromwell asserts, HHC had a " Meal and Break Deduction Policy" under which HHC's timekeeping system automatically deducted time from employees' paychecks each day for meals, breaks, and other deductible periods of time. Id. ¶ ¶ 89-90. For each shift that was long enough for a meal break, 30 minutes was automatically deducted from employees' pay base. Id. ¶ 91. Cromwell claims that he and other members of the class he seeks to represent performed work during these automatically deducted breaks, and that defendants failed to prohibit employees from working during these breaks. Id. ¶ 92-96.

Another relevant HHC policy is the " Unpaid Pre- and Post-Schedule Work Policy." Id. ¶ 122. Under this policy, Cromwell claims, he and other employees were permitted to perform work before and after the end of their scheduled shifts, but were not permitted to record this work so as to be paid for it. Id. ¶ ¶ 125-26. Cromwell also alleges that defendants failed to ...


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