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Media Alerts - Collette Davis v. Abington Memorial Hospital - Third Circuit
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September 1, 2014
  Collette Davis v. Abington Memorial Hospital - Third Circuit
Headline: Third Circuit Holds That To State a Plausible Fair Labor Standards Act Overtime Claim, a Plaintiff Must Sufficiently Allege Uncompensated Time In Excess of Forty Hours of Work in a Given Workweek.

Areas of Law: Employment; Civil Procedure

Issue Presented: Whether plaintiffs alleged a plausible Fair Labor Standards Act overtime claim

Brief Summary:
The plaintiffs, nurses and other patient-care professionals, brought suit against their employers for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as for violations of other state and federal employment statutes. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant healthcare systems and affiliates implemented timekeeping and pay policies that failed to compensate them for all hours worked. The District Court dismissed the plaintiffs' third amended complaints, finding that the complaints did not state a plausible claim. The Third Circuit Court, focusing on the FLSA overtime claim, held that to state a plausible FLSA overtime claim, a plaintiff must sufficiently allege that he worked forty hours in a given workweek as well as some extra hours that were not compensated. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the District Court's dismissal of the plaintiffs' complaints.

Extended Summary:
This is an appeal from the District Court's order dismissing the third amended complaint in five cases. Each of these cases is a putative collective and class action which allege that the plaintiffs' employers implemented timekeeping and pay policies in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). The plaintiffs are nurses and other patient-care professionals acting as representatives in class action suits. The defendants are their alleged employers.

The plaintiffs allege that the defendants maintained three unlawful timekeeping and pay policies. The first, the "Meal Break Deduction Policy," dictates that the timekeeping system automatically deducted thirty minutes of pay daily for meal breaks without ensuring that employees actually received a break. The "Unpaid Pre- and Post-Schedule Work Policy" prohibited employees from recording time worked outside of their scheduled shifts. The "Unpaid Training Policy" stated that employees would not be paid for time spent at "compensable" training sessions. The plaintiffs alleged that because of these policies they were not compensated for hours worked, both under and in excess of forty hours per week.

The plaintiffs filed complaints in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania asserting violations of the FLSA and several other employment statutes. The plaintiffs' third amended complaints sought relief solely under the FLSA and Pennsylvania law. The District Court granted the defendants' motions to dismiss on the grounds that the plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege employer-employee relationships between the plaintiffs and all of the defendants, or that any of the named plaintiffs had worked overtime and were not compensated.

The Third Circuit Court focused on whether the plaintiffs alleged a plausible FLSA overtime claim. The District Court found that the plaintiffs' overtime claim was factually inadequate because the plaintiffs failed to allege a single specific instance in which a named plaintiff worked overtime and was not compensated for that work. The plaintiffs argued that they were not required to plead to exact dates and times that they worked overtime. While some courts have held that to recover overtime compensation under the FLSA, an employee must show the amount and extent of his overtime work as a matter of just and reasonable inference, other courts have found for a more lenient approach, by which a FLSA complaint will survive dismissal so long as it alleges that the employee worked more than forty hours in a week and did not receive overtime compensation.

The Third Circuit adopted the approach set forth in Lundy v. Catholic Health System of Long Island, Inc. In Lundy, the court held that to state a plausible FLSA overtime claim, a plaintiff must sufficiently allege that he worked forty hours of work in a given workweek as well as some uncompensated time in excess of that forty hours. A plaintiff's allegations that could theoretically put her over the forty-hour mark will not suffice. While a plaintiff need not identify the exact dates and times she worked overtime, a plaintiff must at least claim that she "typically" worked forty hours per week, worked extra hours during such a forty-hour week, and was not compensated for extra hours beyond forty hours.
While the plaintiffs alleged that they "typically" worked shifts totaling between thirty-two and forty hours per week and "frequently" worked extra time, none of the plaintiffs indicated that they in fact worked hours in excess of forty hours. Therefore, the District Court did not err in dismissing the plaintiffs' claims for overtime under the FLSA.

The Court also briefly addressed the plaintiffs' contention that the District Court erred in denying them another opportunity to amend the complaint. The Court reasoned that the District Court had discretion to deny the plaintiffs leave to amend because they were on notice as to the deficiencies in their complaints but chose not to resolve them.

Accordingly, the Court affirmed the District Court's dismissal of the plaintiffs' complaints for failure to state a claim. To read the full opinion, please visit http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/123512p.pdf

Panel (if known): Chagares, Shwartz, and Aldisert, Circuit Judges

Argument Date: February 10, 2014

Date of Issued Opinion: August 26, 2014

Docket Number: No. 12-3512

Decided: Affirmed

Case Alert Author: Jaclyn Poulton

Counsel:
Counsel for Appellants: Jared K. Cook, Esq., Michael J. Lingle, Esq., & J. Nelson Thomas, Esq.
Counsel for Appellee: Kristen E. DiMaria, Esq., Julie A. Donahue, Esq., Andrea M. Kirshenbaum, Esq., Christopher J. Moran, Esq., Jan P. Levine, Esq., Andrea T. Ohta, Esq., Sara B. Richman, Esq., Robin P. Sumner, Esq., Justin J. Williams, Esq., Eric J. Bronstein, Esq., John M. Elliott, Esq., Mark J. Schwemler, Esq., Gregory S. Voshell, Esq., Sean P. McDevitt, Esq., Kali T. Wellington-James, Esq., Larry R. Wood, Jr., Esq., Alexandra Bak-Boychuk, Esq., Shannon D. Farmer, Esq., David S. Fryman, Esq., John B. Langel, Esq., & Rebecca L. Massimini, Esq.

Author of Opinion: Judge Chagares

Circuit: Third Circuit

Case Alert Supervisor: Professor Mary E. Levy

    Posted By: Susan DeJarnatt @ 09/01/2014 10:01 AM     3rd Circuit  

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