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New York State Court Clerks Association v. Unified Court Sys. of N.Y.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 9, 2014

NEW YORK STATE COURT CLERKS ASSOCIATION, MONICA BURNS SHAW, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNIFIED COURT SYSTEM OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, OFFICE OF COURT ADMINISTRATION, HONORABLE JONATHAN LIPPMAN, as Chief Judge of the New York State Unified Court System, HONORABLE A. GAIL PRUDENTI, as Chief Administrative Judge of the New York State Unified Court System, HONORABLE LAWRENCE K. MARKS, as First Deputy Chief Administrative Judge of the New York Unified Court System, and the HONORABLE FERN A. FISHER, as Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for the New York City Courts, Defendants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Plaintiffs: Bruce J. Cooper, Esq., Lauren Bonaguro, Esq., PITTA & GIBLIN, LLP, New York, NY.

For State Judge Defendants: Andrew H. Meier, Esq., Michael A. Berg, Esq., ERIS T. SCHNEIDERMAN, Attorney General of the State of N.Y., New York, NY.

For UCS and OCA, Defendants: John J. Sullivan, Esq., Lee A. Adlerstein, Esq., JOHN W. MCCONNELL, Office of Court Administration, Albany, NY.

OPINION

Page 462

Sweet, D.J.

The defendants the Honorable Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of the State of New York (" Judge Lippman" ), the Honorable A. Gail Prudenti, Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts of the State of New York (" Judge Prudenti" ), the Hon. Lawrence K. Marks, First Deputy Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts of the State of New York (" Judge Marks" ), and the Hon. Fern A. Fisher, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for the New York City Courts (" Judge Fisher" ) (collectively, the " State Judges" or " Administrative Judges" ) have moved pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to dismiss the amended complaint (" AC" ) of the plaintiffs New York State Court Clerks Association (" Association" ) and Monica Shaw Burns (" Shaw" ) (collectively, the " Plaintiffs" ) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The defendants the Unified Court System of the State of New York (" UCS" ) and Office of Court Administration (" OCA" ) (collectively, with the State Judges, the " Defendants" ) have similarly moved pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to dismiss the AC. Based on the conclusions set forth below, the motions of the State Judges and the UCS and OCA are granted.

Prior Proceedings

This action was initiated by the filing of a complaint by the Plaintiffs on October 30, 2013. The AC was filed on December 11, 2013.

The UCS and OCA filed their motion to dismiss on January 9, 2014. The State Judges filed their motion a day later, January 10, 2014. The instant motions were heard and marked fully submitted on March 19, 2014.

The AC

The Association is the union representing court clerks employed by UCS in its New York City courts. AC ¶ 7. The Association brings this suit on behalf of its members; Shaw is a Senior Court Clerk and a union delegate who joins the suit on behalf of herself and others similarly situated. AC ¶ ¶ 2, 7-8.

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UCS is the judicial branch of the State of New York. AC ¶ 9. The AC alleges that OCA is the " administrative office" of the UCS. AC ¶ 10. Also named as defendants -- all sued only in their official capacities ¶ are the State Judges. AC ¶ ¶ 11-14.

The AC alleges that, because of budget-related workforce reductions and increased court caseloads, clerks have been expected to " meet the increasing daily demands ... without incurring overtime cost ... creat[ing] a climate where [c]lerks felt compelled to work past normal hours in order to finish their work" and that certain unnamed court managers " allowed [that] to happen." AC ¶ 24. Plaintiffs allege that in order to meet the " impossible" workload demands, certain Association members " began working overtime hours despite not receiving compensation." AC ¶ 25.

The AC alleges that Lawrence Barron, a Senior Court Clerk in Kings County Supreme Court, took it upon himself to complete his work by working without compensation " through the night on" Fridays and continuing to work " all day Saturday." AC ¶ 28. He allegedly did so " with the knowledge and consent" of an unnamed " immediate supervisor." AC ¶ 28.

OCA's Director of Human Resources has told the Association that employees authorized to work overtime are compensated and that OCA does not allow employees to work voluntarily without compensation. AC ¶ ¶ 31, 33.

Some unspecified number of employees have allegedly worked overtime without being compensated. AC ¶ 39. The basis for this assertion is alleged discrepancies between an employee's Kronos (the electronic daily timekeeping system) record and the employee's time-stamped entries in the court's separate case management database, the Universal Case Management System (" UCMS" ). AC ¶ ¶ 40-49. The AC alleges that unnamed supervisors may be editing Kronos time records of clerks who have worked beyond 5:00 p.m. (as allegedly evidenced by their UCMS entries) to adjust the employee's swipe-out time back to 5:00 p.m., in order to prevent that employee from receiving overtime compensation. See AC ¶ 43 (" [I]f a clerk swipes out of the Kronos system for instance at 7:00 p.m., that clerk's swipe out time can be adjusted by his or her supervisor back to 5:00 pm ...." ) The AC alleges also that " some clerks" have clocked out - apparently on their own - at 5:00 p.m., but that their UCMS entries allegedly show they have worked past that time, and they have not been compensated for such alleged additional work. AC ¶ 49. The AC is silent as to whether such unnamed employees were told to work after 5:00 by their supervisors, or worked after 5:00 without appropriate authorization, or worked after 5:00 despite contrary direction. Shaw alleges that she has worked more than 103 hours of uncompensated overtime over an unspecified period. AC ¶ 55.

The AC alleges that Defendants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (" FLSA" ) by failing to pay Shaw (and others similarly situated) wages for all hours worked, AC ¶ 65, and overtime wages for hours worked in excess of 40 hours a week, AC ¶ 71. Plaintiffs also seek, pursuant to the Declaratory Judgment Act (28 U.S.C. § § 2201, 2202), a declaration that the FLSA was and continues to be violated. AC ¶ ¶ 1, 74.

The AC alleges as to the State Judges that:

Defendant, the Honorable Jonathan Lippman . . . is the Chief Judge of the State of New York. The Chief Judge, with the approval of the Administrative Board of Courts, is charged with establishing statewide standards and administrative

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policies. The Hon. Judge Lippman is named herein as a Defendant solely in his official capacity. AC ¶ 11.
Defendant, the Honorable A. Gail Prudenti . . . is the Chief Administrative Judge of the State of New York, and is charged with supervising the administration and operation of the State's trial courts. The Hon. Judge Prudenti is named herein as a Defendant solely in her official capacity. AC ¶ 12.
Defendant, the Honorable Lawrence K. Marks . . . is the First Deputy Chief Administrative Judge, is charged with assisting the Chief Administrative Judge in her functions, as well as coordinating the court system's efforts at improving management of its caseloads and eliminating backlog. The Hon. Judge Marks ...

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