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Quinones v. PRC Management Co. LLC

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 7, 2015

YEJIDE QUINONES, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
PRC MANAGEMENT COMPANY LLC, PRC MANAGEMENT CORPORATION, FRANK LINDE, individually, JOHN CHATZKY, individually, and DAVID GARTENLAUB, individually, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

VALERIE CAPRONI, District Judge.

Plaintiff Yejide Quinones bring this action on behalf of herself and others similarly situated against Defendants PRC Management Company LLC, Frank Linde, John Chatzky, and David Gartenlaub (collectively, the "Defendants"), [1] alleging, inter alia, failure to pay overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. ("FLSA") (Count I) and unlawful withholding of wages in violation of the New York Labor Law ("NYLL") § 193 (Count II). Defendants moved to dismiss Counts I and II of the Amended Complaint ("Am. Compl."). For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

BACKGROUND[2]

At the time of her termination, PRC employed Plaintiff as a compliance manager at a salary of $53, 560 per year. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 23, 30. Plaintiff's responsibilities included supervising between four and six employees, overseeing tax credit procedures and audits, scheduling compliance projects, and addressing tenant issues. Id. ¶¶ 23-24. Plaintiff had worked for PRC from 2001 until 2008, when she resigned after the birth of her first child. Id. ¶ 21. She returned to PRC in February 2010 as a "legal liaison, " before she was promoted to manager of the newly-formed compliance department in October 2012. Id. ¶¶ 22-23.

In September 2013, Plaintiff notified PRC that she was pregnant with a second child and that she anticipated taking Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") leave in or around April 2014. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 27-28. Between January 1, 2014, and February 15, 2014, Plaintiff missed six full days of work and was absent for medical appointments for approximately three hours on two additional days. Id. ¶¶ 38-39, 41-42, 44-45. Plaintiff alleges that her pay for the February 1-15 period, during which she missed four full days of work, was approximately $400 less than it should have been and that she had unused paid leave that should have been applied toward her absences. Id. Finally, she alleges that wrongful deductions were made to her "leave bank" as reflected on her pay stub. Id. When Plaintiff complained to the director of human resources, she was told that she had exhausted her paid leave for 2014. Id. ¶¶ 50-51.[3]

Full-time employees of PRC earn six days of paid sick leave per calendar year, ten days of paid vacation leave per year, and one day of paid personal leave every four-month period ( i.e., three per year). Id. ¶¶ 32-34; Iannaccone Decl. Ex. C at 14-16, Dkt. 24-3.[4] PRC's "Partial Workdays Policy, " which applies to all full-time hourly and salaried employees, provides that: "For the number of hours that the employee takes off from his/her scheduled workday (for doctor's appointments, leaving early for the day), those hours will be charged to the employee's sick or vacation balance. If the employee has fully exhausted his/her paid time off balances, the un-worked hours will be unpaid." Am. Compl. ¶ 36; Iannaccone Decl. Ex. C at 16.

Although Plaintiff's partial-day absences occurred on January 15 and 16, and not during the period that her pay was reduced, she alleges that PRC's partial-day policy makes her a nonsalaried employee under the FLSA. See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 39, 41, 46, 112. Count I of the Amended Complaint alleges that PRC's reduction to her usual salary for the February 1 to February 15 period "destroyed the salary basis on which Plaintiff and others similarly situated were exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA" because pay reductions for salaried employees are not permitted for less than full-day absences. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 108-13. She also alleges that, under the terms of PRC's leave policy, she had paid leave available. Id. ¶ 111. Defendants moved to dismiss this claim, arguing that a one-time deduction from a salaried employee's pay, even if not permitted under the FLSA, does not state a claim for unpaid overtime wages under the FLSA because those facts do not create an inference that PRC has an actual practice of treating purportedly salaried employees as hourly employees. Def. Mem. at 13-15. Moreover, the Defendants argue, even if the one-time deduction means that Plaintiff was not a salaried employee, she has not adequately alleged the existence of an overtime violation.

Count II is not a model of clarity, but it appears to take issue with both the reduction of salary during the February 1 to February 15 pay period and the reductions to her leave allowances, alleging both violated NYLL § 193. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 116-20. According to the Amended Complaint, the salary deductions were not "expressly authorized in writing" or for her benefit and the alleged deductions from her leave bank were in excess of her actual leave and "were ostensibly made as fines or penalties for tardiness and/or excessive leave." Id. ¶¶ 116, 120. Defendants moved to dismiss this claim, arguing that reductions to her "leave bank" and failure to compensate her for unaccrued leave are not "deductions" under NYLL § 193. Def. Mem. at 20-22.

For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion to dismiss Count I is GRANTED; Defendants' motion to dismiss Count II is DENIED.

DISCUSSION

Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's FLSA and NYLL claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that the single occasion on which Plaintiff was not paid for missed work days is insufficient to render Plaintiff non-exempt under the FLSA and that the non-payment of wages when she was absent is not a "deduction" under NYLL § 193. Def. Mem. at 2-3, Dkt. 25.

A. Standard of Review

"To survive a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must allege sufficient facts, taken as true, to state a plausible claim for relief." Johnson v. Priceline.com, Inc., 711 F.3d 271, 275 (2d Cir. 2013) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007)). "A complaint has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Courts must "accept[] as true all material factual allegations in the complaint and draw[] all reasonable inferences in plaintiffs' favor." Johnson, 711 F.3d at 275. "The same deference does not extend, however, to pleaded legal conclusions." Id. (citing Iqbal, ...


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