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Sandra J. Babcock Individually and On Behalf of All Those Similarly Situated, et al v. Butler County

September 6, 2012

SANDRA J. BABCOCK INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL THOSE SIMILARLY SITUATED, ET AL,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BUTLER COUNTY, ET AL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge

ELECTRONICALLY FILED

MEMORANDUM ORDER DENYING

PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO LIFT STAY (DOC. NO. 44)

Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Lift Stay on the collective action they filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") for unpaid overtime. Doc No. 44. By way of background, Plaintiffs initiated this case on February 23, 2012, by filing a Complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Doc. No. 1. On March 29, 2012, the case was transferred to the District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and was assigned to this Court.

On April 11, 2012, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint (doc. no. 19), and Plaintiffs responded by filing an Amended Complaint. Doc No. 25. On April 30, 2012, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint, or in the alternative, a Motion to Stay (doc. no. 30), to which Plaintiffs responded on May 4, 2012. This Court, on May 10, 2012, granted Defendants' Motion to Stay, noting that this Court lacked jurisdiction until Plaintiffs exhausted their administrative remedies under a four-step procedure outlined in their Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA"). Doc. No. 42.

Plaintiffs have now filed a Motion to Lift Stay, claiming that Defendants rejected their grievance in Step Two of the four-step process on procedural grounds, but did not address the merits of their claim. Doc. No. 45. Defendants' Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion to Lift Stay argues that Plaintiffs' failed to complete all four steps of the grievance process as this Court previously ordered. Doc. No. 46.

The Motion is now ripe for disposition.

I. Legal Standard

This Court's May 10, 2012 Order stated that this Court lacked jurisdiction because Plaintiffs' failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. Doc. No. 42. The Court specifically noted in its Opinion, filed contemporaneously with the May 10, 2012 Order, that Plaintiffs were bound by a four-step grievance process set forth in their CBA. Doc. No. 41. Plaintiffs now claim they have exhausted their administrative remedies under the CBA. Thus, this Court must ascertain whether Plaintiffs have exhausted their administrative remedies prior to lifting the stay.

II. Factual and Procedural Background

Plaintiffs, who are employees at a Butler County prison, filed an Amended Complaint on April 18, 2012, alleging that Defendants, Plaintiffs' employers, violated the FLSA. Doc. No. 25. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants required them to take a one-hour meal break, but during that one hour, Plaintiffs were "on call" (which required them to remain within the prison and in their uniforms), but were not paid for fifteen minutes of this one-hour meal break. Id.

On April 30, 2012, in response to Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), or in the alternative, a Motion to Stay. Doc. No. 30. Defendants predicated their Rule 12(b)(1) argument upon the fact that Plaintiffs were subject to a CBA, and Defendants argued that Plaintiffs had failed to complete the four-step grievance process required by the CBA. Doc. Nos. 31-32. Defendants urged the Court to dismiss the FLSA action because the Court lacked jurisdiction given that Plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. Doc. No. 31.

In granting Defendants' Rule 12(b)(1) motion and staying the case for lack of jurisdiction, this Court noted that the Plaintiffs' CBA first addressed the one-hour meal break period as follows:

Eight and one quarter (81/4 ) consecutive hours of work shall constitute a work shift. There shall be a paid roll call period of one-quarter (1/4 ) hour (15 minutes) at the beginning of each shift for the purpose of addressing operational needs of the facility and/or mandatory training. The lunch period shall be a duty-free period of one (1) hour (three-quarters (3/4 ) of an hour (45 minutes) of which will be paid, and one-quarter (1/4 ) of and hour (15 minutes) of which will be unpaid.) If the duty-free period is interrupted, the time will ...


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