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Amponin v. Olayan America Corp.

United States District Court, Southern District of New York

March 16, 2015

JAYSELLE AMPONIN, Plaintiff,
v.
OLAYAN AMERICA CORP., Defendant.

OPINION

Thomas P. Griesa U.S. District Judge

Plaintiff Jayselle Amponin brings suit against defendant Olayan America Corp., her employer from March 2008 through April 2011. Plaintiff claims that defendant terminated her employment due to plaintiffs pregnancy and gender. She alleges discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and gender under (1) Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 ("Title VII"); (2) the New York State Human Rights Law, New York Exec. Law § 290 et seq. ("NYSHRL"); and (3) the New York City Human Rights Law, N.Y.C. Admin. Code. §§ 8-101 et seq. ("NYCHRL"). Plaintiff also seeks to recover unpaid overtime and other monies pursuant to (4) the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. ("FLSA") and (5) New York Labor Law § 190 et seq. ("NYLL").

Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Defendant's motion concerns only the fourth and fifth claims of plaintiffs complaint-the causes of action for unpaid overtime under the FLSA and NYLL.

For the reasons discussed below, defendant's motion is granted, and plaintiffs fourth and fifth causes of action are dismissed without prejudice. The first three causes of action remain.

The Complaint

The followings facts are drawn from the complaint, and are assumed to be true for purposes of this motion.

Plaintiff was employed by defendant between March 1, 2008 and April 26, 2011. (Compl. at ¶ 8.) She learned of her pregnancy on or about March 26, 2011, and informed defendant's in-house counsel of her pregnancy on or about April 10, 2011. (Id. at ¶¶ 14, 16.) Plaintiff informed her supervisor that she was pregnant on or about April 20, 2011. [Id. at ¶ 17.) On April 26, 2011, plaintiff was terminated, and was told by a second supervisor: "We just feel like you don't care. You come in late. Your boss already told you about this . . . We need somebody more reliable to be here." (Id. at ¶ 18.)

With respect to her unpaid overtime claims, plaintiff alleges that she worked as an administrative assistant in defendant's Accounting and Trading departments from March 2008 to December 2010. (Id. at ¶ 10.) During that time, plaintiffs "work hours were supposed to be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but she initially worked from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. As her responsibilities and workload increased, she frequently worked past 6:30 p.m." (Id. at ¶ 27.) Plaintiff alleges that although she "routinely worked over forty (40) hours per week, she was never paid for overtime; even though management was well aware of her work hours." (Id.) Rather, defendant paid plaintiff an annual salary of $50, 000. (Id. at ¶ 15.)

In December 2010, plaintiff moved internally to defendant's Private Equity and Real Estate department. While working in that department, in the "early Spring of 2011, " plaintiff "generally worked from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m." and "occasionally later." (Id. at U 28.) These longer hours stemmed from a "system project that was taking a significant amount of time to investigate, " and "required [plaintiff] to stay at work until at least 7 p.m. every day." (Id. at ¶ 29.) During this time, plaintiff continued to receive an annual salary of $50, 000, without overtime pay. Plaintiffs annual salary was increased to $58, 000 on April 6, 2011-less than one month before her termination. (Id. at ¶ 15.)

Discussion

In determining whether to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim, a court must "construe plaintiffs' complaint liberally, accepting all factual allegations in the complaint as true, and drawing all reasonable inferences in plaintiffs' favor." Selevan v. N.Y. Thruway Auth., 584 F.3d 82, 88 (2d Cir. 2009). However, to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must plead sufficient facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009); Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Unless a plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations have "nudged [her] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, [the] complaint must be dismissed." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Determining "whether a plausible claim has been pled is 'a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'" Lundy v. Catholic Health Sys. of Long Island, Inc., 711 F.3d 106, 114 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

I. The FLSA and NYLL Unpaid Overtime Claims

The FLSA requires that "for a workweek longer than forty hours, " an employee who works "in excess of forty" hours shall be paid for that excess work "at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed." 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). The NYLL adopts this same standard. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 12, § 142-2.2 (2011) (incorporating the FLSA definition of overtime into the NYLL).

Defendant does not dispute that plaintiff was paid an annual salary, or that plaintiff was a "non-exempt" employee subject to the protections of the FLSA and NYLL. But defendant has moved to dismiss plaintiffs unpaid overtime claim for failure to meet the pleading standards for FLSA and NYLL claims. That pleading standard-and the degree of specificity needed to state an ...


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