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Perkins v. 199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

United States District Court, S.D. New York

September 17, 2014

CRAIG PERKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
199 SEIU UNITED HEALTHCARE WORKERS EAST; BRONX LEBANON HOSPITAL, Defendants

Page 279

For Craig Perkins, Plaintiff: Jerold Craig Rotbard, Harold, Salant, Strassfield & Spielberg, White Plains, NY.

For 199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Defendant: Gene Micah Wissinger, Levy Ratner, P.C., New York, NY; Richard Lee Dorn, Levy Ratner, P.C., New York, NY.

For Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center, Defendant: Philip F. Repash, Collazo, Florentino & Keil, L.L.P., New York, NY.

Page 280

OPINION & ORDER

PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, United States District Judge

Plaintiff Craig Perkins brings this suit against his employer, Bronx Lebanon Hospital (the " Hospital" ), and his union, 199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East (the " Union" ). Perkins alleges that the Hospital wrongfully assigned him duties outside his job classification, denied him lunch breaks, and failed to pay him overtime compensation, in violation of the Labor Management Relations Act (" LMRA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 185, the Fair Labor Standards Act (" FLSA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), and the New York Labor Law (" NYLL" ), N.Y. Lab. L. § 663. Perkins also alleges that the Union breached its duty of fair representation by ignoring his requests to file grievances, in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (" NLRA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 159(a).

Page 281

The Hospital and the Union, in separate motions, now move to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Defendants argue that Perkins' complaint states no claim upon which relief may be granted and that some claims are time-barred. For the following reasons, the Court grants the motions to dismiss.

I. Background

A. Factual Background[1]

On August 4, 2004, the Hospital hired Perkins as a Fire Safety Officer. Am. Compl. ¶ 1. Since beginning his employment at the Hospital, Perkins has been a member of the Union. Id. ¶ 2. The relationship among the parties is governed by a binding Collective Bargaining Agreement (" CBA" ). Id. ¶ 9, 38.

Starting in 2005, Perkins' supervisor began assigning Perkins the duties of a Cashier Officer--a separate position--and informed Perkins that he was expected to simultaneously perform the duties of a Fire Safety Officer and a Cashier Officer. Id. ¶ 16. Despite the increase in his duties, the Hospital did not increase Perkins' pay and continued to pay him only the wage rate for a Fire Safety Officer. Id. ¶ 17-18. At various times, including at least four times between July 2013 and February 2014, Perkins complained to his supervisors that he should either receive only assignments legitimate to his position as a Fire Safety Officer or be compensated at a higher rate commensurate with his increased responsibilities. Id. ¶ 19. Perkins' supervisors ignored these complaints. Id. ¶ 20, 30.

Page 282

In approximately 2008, Perkins' supervisor told him that he was no longer permitted to take a lunch break. Id. ¶ 21. Rather, Perkins was expected to eat lunch at his job post while continuing his work. Id. Although Perkins complied with his that instruction and remained on duty during his lunch, the Hospital never compensated Perkins for that time. Id. ¶ 23-24. On various occasions, including at least four instances between July 2013 and February 2014, Perkins complained to his supervisors that he should either receive lunch breaks or compensation for that time. Id. ¶ 24. Perkins' supervisors ignored these complaints. Id. ¶ 25, 30.

Also beginning in 2008, Perkins' supervisors directed him to work more than his regularly scheduled 37.5 hours per week. Id. ¶ 22. Perkins received no compensation for the additional hours he worked. Id. ¶ 23. Perkins repeatedly demanded overtime compensation from his supervisors, including on the same four instances between July 2013 and February 2014. Id. ¶ 24. His supervisors again ignored his complaints. Id. ¶ 25, 30.

For reasons the Amended Complaint does not explain, it was not until July 23, 2013 that Perkins first requested the Union's assistance in addressing his concerns about his additional duties, lunch breaks, and lack of overtime compensation. Id. ¶ 26. That day, via a text message, Perkins asked his Union representative, Aida Morales, to file grievances against the Hospital on his behalf. Id. On September 6, 2013, and October 30, 2013, Perkins sent Morales additional text messages reiterating his requests. Id. Morales did not respond to Perkins' messages, and the Union did not file grievances on Perkins' behalf regarding these issues. Id. ¶ ¶ 27, 29.

B. Procedural History

On February 14, 2014, Perkins filed the original pro se Complaint in the Supreme Court of New York in the Bronx. See Dkt. 1. On March 11, 2014, the Union removed the case to this Court. Id. The next day, the Hospital consented to that removal. Dkt. 4. On March 18, 2014, both the Hospital and the Union moved to dismiss. Dkt. 9, 13. In response, the Court issued an order granting Perkins leave to file an amended complaint. See Dkt. 17, 21.

On May 2, 2014, Perkins, through newly retained counsel, filed an Amended Complaint, Dkt. 19, alleging six causes of action: two of breach of contract, two of breach of the Union's duty of fair representation, and two of failure to pay overtime compensation. Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 36-80. Perkins seeks compensatory damages for his lost wages and benefits with interest, liquidated damages, damages for emotional distress, attorneys' fees, and an order enjoining the Hospital from engaging in further wrongful conduct. Id. ¶ ¶ (1)-(7).

On June 4, 2014, the Hospital filed a motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint, Dkt. 28, and an accompanying memorandum of law, Dkt. 29 (" Hospital Br." ). On June 16, 2014, the Union did the same, see Dkt. 33, 34 (" Union Br." ), along with a declaration in support of its motion, Dkt. 35 (" Dorn Declaration" ). Defendants argue there that the Amended Complaint fails to state a claim as to any cause of action, and that the duty of fair representation claims and the breach of contract claims are time-barred. On July 9, 2014, Perkins submitted briefs in opposition to both motions to dismiss. Dkt. 37 (" Pl. Hospital Br." ), 38 (" Pl. Union Br." ). On July 16, 2014, defendants submitted reply briefs. Dkt. 40 (" Hospital Reply Br." ), 39 (" Union Reply Br." ).

II. Discussion

A. Applicable Legal Standards

To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a ...


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