NY Court Largely Denies Motion to Dismiss Overtime Claims Under FLSA and NYLL
In Lawtone-Bowles v. City of New York, the Southern District of New York granted in part, and denied in part, a Rule 12(b) motion to dismiss overtime claims advanced under the FLSA and New York Labor Law (“NYLL”). See No. 16-CV-4240 (AJN) (Sept. 22, 2017).
The plaintiffs worked for the Department of Homeless Services as Motor Vehicle Operators responsible for transporting homeless persons to temporary housing placements, train stations, and airports. The plaintiffs were generally scheduled for give shifts of eight hours and thirty minutes each week, with thirty minutes automatically deducted for uncompensated meal periods each day. They contended that they were not paid appropriate overtime because they often worked through their meal periods and the City failed to include their “night shift differential pay” when calculating the amount of overtime they were due.
The City attempted to attack the sufficiency of the pleadings under a string of Second Circuit authority that requires a plaintiff to allege, with some degree of specificity, the performance of at least 40 hours of work as well as uncompensated time in excess of 40. Specifically, the City alleged that the plaintiffs could not meet the pleading criteria set forth in Nakahata v. NY Presbyterian Healthcare System, 723 F.3d 192 (2d Cir. 2013) or Dejesus v. HF Mgmt. Servs., LLC, 726 F.3d 85 (2d Cir. 2013). The Court rejected the attack, finding that each of the plaintiffs were sufficiently precise in alleging the dates, amounts, and reasons for which they performed off-the-clock work. Accordingly, the Court denied this aspect of the City’s motion.
As we have reported elsewhere on this blog, Second Circuit precedent does provide ammunition for employers to attack the sufficiency of the pleadings. Here, as set forth above, the Court found the attack misplaced as it found the allegations to meet the Second Circuit’s pleading standard. However, employers should keep in mind that, even if the City was successful on its motion, the likely result would have been a dismissal without prejudice. The plaintiffs likely would have been provided with an opportunity to amend their complaint. The case would not be over. Thus, employers should exercise caution in advancing a motion of this type, and should only do so where strategic value lies elsewhere.