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Lynch v. The City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

October 27, 2017

NORMA LYNCH, LINDA BRISBANE, CYMAH LOVELL, KENNETH MILLER, NATISHA SMITH, and CHIVON DANIELS, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER

          KATHERINE B. FORREST UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, commenced this action on July 15, 2016, against the City of New York for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiffs subsequently filed an amended complaint on October 4, 2016. (Am. Compl., ECF No. 21.) Plaintiffs allege that New York City's Department of Homeless Services (“DHS”) engaged in a number of illegal employment practices, including, inter alia, failing to compensate plaintiffs at a rate of one and one-half times plaintiffs' regular rate of pay for all hours plaintiffs worked in excess of forty hours in a given workweek. (Id.)

         On December 5, 2016, the Court conditionally certified a class under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) of “all present and former employees who work or who have worked as Principal Administrative Assistant I and Principal Administrative Assistant II occupations for the City of New York at the Department of Homeless Services facility located at 33 Beaver Street, New York, NY 10004, for any time since July 15, 2013.” (ECF No. 34, at 10.)

         Both parties filed motions for partial summary judgment; the defendant also moved to decertify the class.[1] (ECF Nos. 72, 76.)

         For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion for class decertification is GRANTED. Further, because decertification impacts the evidence the parties may want to cite in connection with summary judgment, those motions are DENIED with leave to refile.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs are thirty current or former Principal Administrative Associates, Level 1 (“PAA 1”) or Level 2 (“PAA 2”), who worked for DHS at some point since July 15, 2013. Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on October 4, 2016, alleging that defendant City of New York engaged in a number of illegal employment practices under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), including: (1) failing to compensate plaintiffs at a rate of one and one-half times plaintiffs' regular rate of pay for all hours plaintiffs worked in excess of forty hours in a given workweek (the “Off-the-Clock Claim”); (2) failing to include certain premium payments such as night shift differential pay and meal allowance payments in the calculation of plaintiffs' overtime pay (the “Regular Rate Claim”); (3) violating the prompt payment requirement applicable to overtime pay (the “Timeliness Claim”); and (4) failing to pay plaintiffs' compensatory time at a rate of one and one-half times plaintiffs' regular rate of pay (the “Straight Time Claim”). (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 29-52.) Defendant answered the amended complaint on October 20, 2016. (ECF No. 22.)

         A. Conditional Certification

         On October 24, 2016, the plaintiffs moved for conditional certification of a class under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), comprised of all present and former employees who work or who have worked as Principal Administrative Assistant I and Principal Administrative Assistant II occupations for the City of New York at any of its Department of Homeless Services facilities for any time period since July 15, 2013. (ECF No. 23.) On December 5, 2016, the Court conditionally certified a modified version of the class, comprised of only those employees who work or worked during the relevant period at “DHS's 33 Beaver Street location.” (ECF No. 34, at 2.)

         Following the conditional certification, 30 plaintiffs opted into the class. Of those 30, the only claim all plaintiffs share is the “Off-the-Clock” claim. Nineteen claim they were negatively impacted under Count II, eight under Count III, and five under Count IV. In support of their Motion to Dismiss, defendant submitted the depositions of all 30 plaintiffs. (ECF No. 79.)

         B. CityTime

         The City uses a program called “CityTime, ” a web-based program through which City employees manage their time at work, electronically submit time sheets, and make requests for overtime compensation. (ECF No. 81, Statement of Additional Undisputed Material Facts (“AUMF”), ¶¶ 37-38.) When plaintiffs work hours beyond their regularly-scheduled shifts, they are responsible for submitting requests for compensation through CityTime. (Id. ¶ 46.) CityTime instructs the employees to certify and review their hours weekly, including whether they worked any time outside of their regularly scheduled hours. (Id. ¶ 58.) When employees work beyond their regularly scheduled hours without requesting overtime compensation, CityTime records their hours as “noncompensable.” (Id. ¶ 75.)

         Plaintiffs regularly request and receive overtime compensation for work performed outside of their regular shifts. (Id. ΒΆ 79.) Since July 15, 2013, 98.5% of plaintiffs' overtime requests have been approved and they have been paid ...


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