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Henderson v. UPMC

January 11, 2010

MARY C. HENDERSON, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UPMC, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cathy Bissoon United States Magistrate Judge

Magistrate Judge Bissoon*fn1

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. MEMORANDUM

For the reasons that follow, Defendants‟ Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 40) the Second Amended Complaint will be granted, and Karen Camesi‟s Motions to Intervene (Doc. 42) and to Dismiss (Doc. 45) will be denied as moot.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated ERISA by failing to credit to her retirement plan hours that she worked, but for which she was not paid. See generally 2d Am. Compl. (Doc. 32). Specifically, Plaintiff claims that she was not properly compensated for meal breaks, automatically deducted from her pay, during which she was required to perform job duties.

See generally id. at ¶¶ 22-44.*fn2 Plaintiff acknowledges that her case is related to the FLSA collective action regarding meal breaks in Camesi v. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Civil Action No. 09-85J (W.D. Pa.) (Bissoon, M.J., presiding). See id. at ¶ 39; see also id. at ¶ 44 (Defendants‟ purported ERISA violations "flow out of violations of state and federal fair labor standards laws") (emphasis added). Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated ERISA by failing to maintain/furnish records regarding unpaid meal breaks, and that, relatedly, Defendants violated their fiduciary duties under the statute. See generally 2d Am. Compl. at ¶¶ 79-84.

As reflected in the parties‟ briefing, there is conflicting jurisprudence regarding the extent to which an employer/plan administrator may be liable under ERISA for failing to credit hours allegedly compensable under the FLSA. The Court sees little benefit in recounting each of the various legal decisions that have issued. Rather, and in the absence of Third Circuit authority, the Court will rely on the well-reasoned decision in Mathews v. ALC Partner, Inc., 2009 WL 3837249 (E.D. Mich. Nov. 16, 2009).

In Mathews, the court stated:

[The p]laintiffs . . . bring ERISA claims predicated on [the defendants‟] failure to . . . credit . . . additional hours worked (but not compensated for) to their accounts in the ERISA benefit plans, with the result that the [p]laintiffs‟ retirement benefits . . . are or will be smaller than they should be according to plan documents. [Generally, the court agrees with the defendants that their alleged] decision not to pay . . . employees for all hours worked, and therefore credit the retirement account for all hours worked, was a business decision, not an ERISA fiduciary decision, so the failure to credit the plan for all hours worked could not have breached any fiduciary duty. . . .

But the [c]court also [concludes] that if the [defendants‟] retirement plan determined an employee‟s ERISA benefits based on the number of hours worked or wages earned, and not merely on wages actually paid, then the decision whether to credit hours worked -- even unpaid hours -- would be a fiduciary decision under ERISA.

Id. at *1 (emphasis in original). The issue before the Mathews Court, then, was "whether the [defendants‟] plan documents tie[d] ERISA benefits to wages earned, or rather to wages actually paid." Id. at *3.

Turning to the plan documents, the court in Mathews found that the plaintiffs‟ ERISA benefits were "defined in terms of "Compensation,‟" and that, in turn, "Compensation" was defined by what was reflected in the plaintiffs‟ W-2 forms. See id. at *4-5. Because "[a] Form W-2 includes [w]ages, tips, and other compensation an employee is actually paid," and because "[w]ages are defined" under the Internal Revenue Code ("IRC") as "remuneration" (which means "to pay"), the court concluded that the defendants owed no fiduciary or recording obligations under ERISA for hours allegedly worked but not paid. See id. at *5-6 (citation to quoted sources omitted, some internal quotations omitted, emphasis added); see also id. at *7 ("[b]ecause plan benefits [we]re pegged solely to wages actually paid, the [defendants‟] plan fiduciary had no duty to maintain records of all hours actually worked, or [to] credit the employees‟ retirement accounts by all hours actually worked").

In reaching this conclusion, the Mathews Court rejected the plaintiffs‟ reliance on plan provisions regarding "Hours of Service." See id. at *6. Although "Hour of Service" was defined as "each hour for which an employee [wa]s directly or indirectly compensated or entitled to compensation," the court found that this provision neither "preclude[d] [nor] contradict[ed the] conclusion that plan benefits [we]re tied to compensation, which [wa]s tied to wages actually paid." Id. at *7. "The relevant inquiry [wa]s the meaning of the word "Compensation,‟" and ""Hours of Service,‟ whatever its meaning, [wa]s not relevant to the question of whether ERISA benefits [we]re tied to wages earned or wages paid." Id.

The instant case is the same as Mathews in all material respects. As Plaintiff‟s briefing confirms, all three of Defendants‟ relevant retirement plans ("the Plans") tie ERISA benefits to the defined term, "Compensation." See ...


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