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Schneider v. The It Factor Productions

United States District Court, Third Circuit

December 10, 2013

SAMANTHA SCHNEIDER, Plaintiff,
v.
THE IT FACTOR PRODUCTIONS, a/k/a HOSTED CONTACT SOLUTIONS, a/k/a KABACK MODEL MANAGEMENT, and ALYCIA KABACK, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

RONALD L. BUCKWALTER, Senior District Judge.

Currently pending before the Court is Defendant Alycia Kaback's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint against her. For the following reasons, the Motion is denied.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

According to the facts set forth in the Complaint, Plaintiff Samantha Schneider commenced employment with Defendant IT Factor Productions ("IT Factor") on September 4, 2012. (Compl. ¶ 6.) During her first four weeks of employment, Plaintiff was classified as being in "training, " essentially receiving no compensation, despite working twenty-three of twenty-five days during the period from September 4, 2012 to September 28, 2012. ( Id. ¶ 7.) Defendant IT Factor did not pay Plaintiff the legally-prescribed minimum hourly wage. ( Id. ¶ 8.)

As of September 29, 2012, Plaintiff was placed on IT Factor's payroll. ( Id. ¶ 9.) At the time of her hiring, she was not advised that she would be expected to work more than forty hours per week. ( Id. ¶ 10.) From September 29, 2012 to the last date of her employment on January 18, 2013, however, there were numerous weeks in which Plaintiff was forced to work more than forty hours per week without receiving overtime pay at the rate of one and a half times her regular rate for each hour over forty which she worked per week. ( Id. ¶ 11.) In addition, she was required to travel to an office location one hour away from her home, sit in a small interior windowless office with three other employees, and work long hours, six days per week. ( Id. ¶ 12.) Anytime she left her desk, even to use the bathroom or get food, she was admonished by IT Factor's management, including President and Chief Executive Officer Alycia Kaback and Plaintiff's immediate supervisor Michael Fomkin. ( Id. ¶ 13.)

Plaintiff was advised that she had to contact and sign up an unachievable number of people as "talent, " which caused her to work long hours. ( Id. ¶ 16.) Although she was given various job titles, she never had any management responsibilities. ( Id. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff did everything that she was asked to do, even working times when Defendant IT Factor refused to compensate her because she was not allowed to "clock in" to be paid until later. ( Id. ¶ 18.)

On numerous occasions, Plaintiff complained about the working conditions to management and questioned the lack of overtime pay and the manner in which she was being compensated. ( Id. ¶ 14.) Each time, Plaintiff was advised that she would be "promoted" soon and that she was being paid in accordance with the law. ( Id. ¶ 15.) In addition, every time she attempted to address pay issues, she was forced to deal with even more onerous work conditions. ( Id. ¶ 19.) Over time, the intolerable work conditions started to affect Plaintiff's health. (Id.) When Plaintiff addressed this situation with Michael Fomkin, he told her that if she did not like it, then leave. ( Id. ¶ 20.) As of January 2013-a point at which Plaintiff was one of IT Factor's longest tenured employees-the work conditions and hours had become increasingly intolerable and she again addressed the situation with Fomkin, who again advised her to leave if she did not like it. ( Id. ¶ 21-22.) As Plaintiff needed to make a living, however, she continued to endure the work conditions. ( Id. ¶ 23.)

On January 18, 2013, Plaintiff's last day of employment with IT Factor, Defendant Kaback came into the area where Plaintiff was working and screamed, "Get off the phone now." ( Id. ¶ 24.) Kaback then brought Plaintiff to her office where Fomkin screamed at the top of his lungs, saying that he bugged Plaintiff's phone, that she did not sound positive, and that she was bringing the company down with how negative she was. ( Id. ¶ 25.) Fomkin then said he "wasn't firing" Plaintiff, but she had to take four days off and, if she wanted her job back, she had to email him 2, 000 words explaining why he should let her keep her job. ( Id. ¶ 27.) Plaintiff avers that IT Factor had no intention of ever letting her work there in the future and the plan was to claim that she resigned. ( Id. ¶ 28.) Plaintiff also believes that Defendants' actions were in direct retaliation for her complaints about IT Factor's policies, which constitute federal and state law wage payment violations. ( Id. ¶ 29.)

On October 11, 2013, Plaintiff initiated the current action against Defendants IT Factor and Alycia Kaback. Her Complaint sets forth four causes of action as follows: (1) violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq., for failing to pay Plaintiff overtime for her hours in excess of forty hours per week (Compl. ¶¶ 30-39); (2) violation of the FLSA for constructively terminating her employment in retaliation for her complaints about the alleged violations of the FLSA, (id. ¶¶ 40-44); (3) violation of the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act ("PMWA"), 42 Pa.C.S. § 333.101, et seq., for failing to pay Plaintiff overtime for her hours in excess of forty hours per week (Compl. ¶¶ 45-54); and (4) violation of the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law ("WPCL"), 43 Pa.C.S. § 260.1, for failing to pay Plaintiff's wages earned within the time limits prescribed by the WPCL. (Compl. ¶¶ 55-60.)

Defendant Alycia Kaback moved to dismiss the Complaint against her on November 22, 2013. Plaintiff filed her opposition in response on November 26, 2013, making the present Motion ripe for judicial consideration.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under Rule 12(b)(6), a defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that the plaintiff has not stated a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P.12(b)(6); see also Hedges v. United States , 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). In Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544 (2007), the United States Supreme Court recognized that "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555. Following these basic dictates, the Supreme Court, in Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662 (2009), subsequently defined a two-pronged approach to a court's review of a motion to dismiss. "First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. at 678. Thus, although "Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era... it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Id. at 678-79.

Second, the Supreme Court emphasized that "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. at 679. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will, as the Court of Appeals observed, be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id . A complaint does not show an entitlement to relief when the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct. Id .; see also Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny , 515 F.3d 224, 232-34 (3d Cir. 2008) (holding that: (1) factual allegations of complaint must provide notice to defendant; (2) complaint must allege facts suggestive of the proscribed conduct; and (3) the complaint's "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'" (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555)).

Notwithstanding these new dictates, the basic tenets of the Rule 12(b)(6) standard of review have remained static. Spence v. Brownsville Area Sch. Dist., No. Civ.A.08-626 , 2008 WL 2779079, at *2 (W.D. Pa. July 15, 2008). The general rules of pleading still require only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief and need not contain detailed factual allegations. Phillips , 515 F.3d at 233. Further, the court must "accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist. , 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006). Finally, the court must ...


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