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Sleiman v. DHL Express

April 27, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Slomsky, J.


I. Introduction

On January 29, 2009, Plaintiff Elias Sleiman, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, filed a complaint against Defendant DHL Express, seeking compensation for alleged unpaid wages, overtime, liquidated damages, attorney's fees and costs pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq, and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law ("WPCL"), 43 P.S. § 260.1 et seq. Plaintiff sought compensation for time spent waiting to go through security at Defendant's facility, time spent going through security, and time spent walking between security and the time clock where employees clock in and out. Defendant DHL Express filed a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 6) on March 31, 2009. Plaintiff filed a Response (Doc. No. 9) to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss on April 14, 2009. Defendant filed a Reply (Doc. No. 10) to Plaintiff's Response on April 21, 2009.

Defendant DHL Express' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint in its entirety is before the Court. For reasons that follow, the Court grants the Motion to Dismiss. Because this Court deems that amendment would be futile, the Complaint is dismissed with prejudice.

II. General Background

Defendant DHL Express operates a mail sorting facility in Breinigsville, Pennsylvania, and employs about 400 sorters, yard jockeys, and others ("Mail Workers"). (Complaint ¶17). Plaintiff is a mail worker and seeks to represent Mail Workers who have been employed by Defendant during the past three years. (Id. ¶18). It is undisputed that Defendant has paid Plaintiff and prospective class members ("Class Members") for the time that they engage in actual production activities. (Id. ¶19). Pursuant to Defendant's internal policy, Class Members are randomly selected on a daily basis to proceed through a security screening before clocking in and after clocking out. (Id. ¶20). Class Members are not compensated for time spent waiting for the security screening process or for time spent clearing the security process. (Id. ¶21). Class Members are also not compensated for the time it takes for them to walk from the entrance to the time clock at Defendant's facility and the time it takes to walk from the time clock to the exit. (Id. ¶22-23).

Plaintiff has brought a two-count complaint, alleging violations of the FLSA and WPCL. Plaintiff alleges that failure to compensate Class Members for the following three activities was a violation of these statutes: (1) waiting in line to go through security screening before entering and exiting Defendant's facility; (2) participating in the security screening itself; and (3) walking between the security screening area and time clocks where Mail Workers clock in and out. (See Complaint generally). Plaintiff seeks an award of damages in the form of reimbursement for unpaid wages, costs and attorneys fees, and other equitable relief. (Id. ¶27, 26*fn1 ).

III. The Motion to Dismiss Standard

Defendant DHL Express has moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). In deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule12(b)(6), a court must "accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under a reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotations omitted) (reasoning that this statement of Rule 12(b)(6) standard remains accurate following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)). To withstand a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 234. This standard "simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element." Id. However, a court "need not credit a complaint's bald assertions or legal conclusions when deciding a motion to dismiss." Hunt v. United States Tobacco Co., 538 F.3d 217, 227 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation omitted).

IV. Discussion

Defendant DHL Express claims that Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim under the FLSA as a matter of law because the activities for which he seeks payment are non-compensable preliminary and postliminary activities under the FLSA. The Court will first address the relevant history of the FLSA. Following that discussion, the Court will explain, in turn, why waiting for security screening, proceeding through security screening, and time spent walking between security and the time clock area are not compensable activities pursuant to the FLSA. Because none of these activities constitute compensable "work," Plaintiff's FLSA claims are dismissed. Plaintiff's WPCL claims are derivative of his FLSA claims, so they are also dismissed.

A. History of FLSA Coverage

Congress enacted the FLSA in 1938 to correct existing "labor conditions detrimental to the maintenance of the minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency, and general well-being of workers." 29 U.S.C. § 202(a). The FLSA does not specifically define "work." The Supreme Court originally interpreted work broadly, including activities such as walking from the entrance of a site to the employee's actual work location. See Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680, 691-92 (1946); Tennessee Coal, Iron & R. Co. v. Muscoda Local No. 123, 321 U.S. 590, 598 (1944).

In response to the Supreme Court's broad construction of "work," Congress amended certain provisions of the FLSA in 1947 with the Portal-to-Portal Act, 29 U.S.C. ...

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